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THE SONG OF HUGH GLASS 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS 
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED 

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD. 

TORONTO 



THE SONG OF 
HUGH GLASS 



BY 
JOHN G. NEIHARDT 

WITH NOTES 

BY 

JULIUS T. HOUSE 

HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AT THE STATR 
NORMAL SCHOOL, WAYNE, NEBRASKA 




Nefo gorfc 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
1921 

All rights reserved 



COPYRIGHT, 1915, 1919, 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1915, 



Nortooolj 

J. 8. Gushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 



TO SIGURD, SCARCELY THREE 

When you are old enough to know 
The joys of kite and boat and bow 
And other suchlike splendid things 
That boyhood's rounded decade brings, 
I shall not give you tropes and rhymes ; 
But, rising to those rousing times, 
I shall ply well the craft I know 
Of shaping kite and boat and bow, 
For you shall teach me once again 
The goodly art of being ten. 

Meanwhile, as on a rainy day 

When 'tis not possible to play, 

The while you do your best to grow 

I ply the other craft I know 

And strive to build for you the mood 

Of daring and of fortitude 

With fitted word and shapen phrase, 

Against those later wonder-days 

When first you glimpse the world of men 

Beyond the bleaker side of ten. 



NOTE 

THE following narrative is based upon an episode taken 
from that much neglected portion of our history, the era 
of the American Fur Trade. My interest in that period 
may be said to have begun at the age of six when, cling 
ing to the forefinger of my father, I discovered the Mis 
souri River from a bluff top at Kansas City. It was flood 
time, and the impression I received was deep and lasting. 
Even now I cannot think of that stream without a thrill 
of awe and something of the reverence one feels for 
mighty things. It was for me what the sea must have 
been to the Greek boys of antiquity. And as those an 
cient boys must have been eager to hear of perils nobly 
encountered on the deep and in the lands adjacent, so 
was I eager to learn of the heroes who had travelled my 
river as an imperial road. Nor was I disappointed in 
what I learned of them ; for they seemed to me in every 
way equal to the heroes of old. I came to think of them 
with a sense of personal ownership, for any one of many 
of them might have been my grandfather and so a little 
of their purple fell on me. As I grew older and came 
to possess more of my inheritance, I began to see that 
what had enthralled me was, in fact, of the stuff of sagas, 



viii NOTE 

a genuine epic cycle in the rough. Furthermore, I real 
ized that this raw material had been undergoing a process 
of digestion in my consciousness, corresponding in a way 
to the process of infinite repetition and fond elaboration 
which, as certain scholars tell us, foreran the heroic nar 
ratives of old time. 

I decided that some day I would begin to tell these 
hero tales in verse ; and in 1 908, as a preparation for 
what I had in mind, I descended the Missouri in an 
open boat, and also ascended the Yellowstone for a con 
siderable distance. On the upper river the country was 
practically unchanged ; and for one familiar with what 
had taken place there, it was no difficult feat of the 
imagination to revive the details of that time the men, 
the trails, the boats, the trading posts where veritable 
satraps once ruled under the sway of the American Fur 
Company. 

The Hugh Glass episode is to be found in Chitten- 
den's < History of the American Fur Trade" where it 
is quoted from its three printed sources : the Missouri 
Intelligencer, Sage's "Scenes in the Rocky Mountains," 
and Cooke's "Scenes in the United States Army." The 
present narrative begins after that military fiasco known 
as the Leavenworth Campaign against the Aricaras, which 
took place at the mouth of the Grand River in what is 

now South Dakota. 

J. G. N. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR .... 1 

II. THE AWAKENING 26 

III. THE CRAWL , 37 

IV. THE RETURN OF THE GHOST .... 94 
V. JAMIE 109 



INTRODUCTION 

IF the average student of Western American History 
in our schools were asked to recall those names which 
loom large for him during the four decades from the 
purchase of the Louisiana Territory to the coming 
of the settlers, he would doubtless think of Lewis 
and Clark, Lieutenant Pike, Major Long, and General 
Fremont, with perhaps one or two others. That is 
to say, the average student of Western History is 
familiar with the names of official explorers ; and but 
for their exploits, those forty wonderful years would 
seem to him little more than a lapse of empty time 
in a vast region waiting for the westering white man. 

It is true that the deeds of those above named 
were important. The journey of Lewis and Clark 
from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia, and 
back again, has immense significance in the story of 
our national life, and it was truly a "magnificent 
adventure," to use the phrase of Emerson Hough. 
Pike holds and deserves a high place for his explora 
tions in the Southwest. Long's contribution to the 
early knowledge of the West was considerable; and 
Fremont's expeditions served, at least, to awaken the 



xii INTRODUCTION 

popular Eastern mind to the great possibilities of the 
Trans-Missouri region. Fremont's reputation, how 
ever, is out of all proportion to his real accomplishment, 
for the trails he travelled were well known to white 
men long before he ventured into the wilderness. In 
this connection, Major Chittenden, one of the fore 
most authorities on the subject, tells us that "there 
never has been a time until very recently when the 
geography of the West was so thoroughly understood 
as it was by the trader and trapper from 1830 to 1840." 
When Lewis and Clark were descending the Mis 
souri River in the summer of 1806 on their return from 
the mouth of the Columbia, they met bands of traders 
pushing on toward the country from whence the ex 
plorers had just come. These were the vanguard of 
the real history makers of the Early West. It was 
such men as these who, during the next generation, 
as Chittenden says, "first explored and established 
the routes of travel which are now and alwavs will be 
the avenues of commerce in that region." The period 
that followed the return of Lewis and Clark was one 
of the most enthralling in the entire story of the human 
race, and yet the very names of its principal heroes 
are practically unknown except to specialists in West 
ern History. The stories of their exploits have not 
yet reached our schools, and are to be found, for the 
most part, hidden away in the collections of state 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

historical societies and in contemporary journals and 
books of travel long since out of print. The Mormon 
Emigration, the Mexican War, the Gold Rush to 
California, and the Oregon Question filled the popular 
imagination during the early years of the West, and 
thus an important phase of our national development 
was overlooked and forgotten. 

Nevertheless, it remains true that the story of the 
West during the first four decades of the nineteenth 
century is the story of the wandering bands of trappers 
and traders who explored the wilderness in search of 
furs from the British boundary to Mexico and from 
the Missouri to the Pacific. History, as written in 
the past, has been too much a chronological record of 
official governmental acts, too little an intimate ac 
count of the lives of the people themselves. Doubt 
less, the democratic spirit that now seems to be sweep 
ing the world will, if it continues to spread, revolu 
tionize our whole conception of history, bringing us 
to realize that the glory of the race is not the glory 
of a chosen few, but that it radiates from the precious 
heroic stuff of common human lives. And that view, 
I am proud to say, is quite in keeping with our dearest 
national traditions. 

Now the fur trade on the Missouri River dates well 
back into the eighteenth century, and at the time of 
the Revolutionary War, parties of trappers had al* 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

ready ascended as far north as the Big Bend in the 
present state of South Dakota. But it was not until 
after the return of Lewis and Clark from the North 
west, and of Lieutenant Pike from the Southwest, 
that the great era of the fur trade began. In 1807 
the Spanish trader, Manuel Lisa, ascended the 
Missouri and the Yellowstone to the mouth of the 
Big Horn, where he erected a trading post. Return 
ing to St. Louis the next year, he became the leading 
spirit in the "St. Louis Missouri Fur Company," the 
troubled career of which, during the succeeding fif 
teen years, was rich in the stuff of which epics are 
made. Major Andrew Henry, who appears in "The 
Song of Hugh Glass" as leader of the westbound ex 
pedition from the mouth of the Grand River, was a 
member of that company, ascending the Missouri to 
the Three Forks in the summer of 1809. Driven 
thence by the Blackfeet, he crossed the Great Divide 
and built a post on what has since been called Henry's 
fork of the Snake River, thus being the first American 
trader to operate on the Pacific side of the Rockies. 

In the spring of 1811, the Overland Astorians, under 
the command of W. P. Hunt, left St. Louis, bound for 
the mouth of the Columbia where they expected to 
join forces with a sea expedition that had set sail from 
New York during the previous autumn for the long 
and hazardous voyage around Cape Horn. This is 



INTRODUCTION xv 

the only widely known expedition in the whole history 
of the Trans-Missouri fur trade, thanks to Washington 
Irving, whose account of it is an American classic. 

During the War of 1812 the fur trade on the Missouri 
declined; and though in the year 1819 five companies 
of some importance were operating from St. Louis, 
none of these was doing a profitable business. The 
revival of the trade, which ushered in the great epic 
period of our national development, may be dated 
from March 2Oth, 1822, when the following adver 
tisement appeared in the Missouri Republican of 
St. Louis : 

To Enterprising Young Men : 

The subscriber wishes to engage one hundred young men 
to ascend the Missouri River to its source, there to be 
employed for one, two or three years. For particulars 
enquire of Major Andrew Henry, near the lead mines in 
the County of Washington, who will ascend with and 
command the party; or of the subscriber near St. Louis. 
(Signed) WILLIAM H. ASHLEY. 

Major Henry has already been mentioned as a 
veteran trader of the upper country. Ashley, who 
was at that time General of the Missouri Militia and 
Lieutenant Governor of the recently admitted state, 
was about to make his first trip into the wilderness. 

Setting out in the spring of 1822, Major Henry, 
with his one hundred "enterprising young men" 
(some of whom were young only in spirit), ascended 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

to the mouth of the Yellowstone. This was before 
the era of the Missouri River steamboat, and the two 
kcclboats, that bore the trading stock and supplies 
of the party, were "cordelled," that is to say, pulled 
by tow-line. General Ashley accompanied the ex 
pedition, returning to St. Louis in the fall. Early in 
the spring of 1823 he started north again with a second 
band of one hundred men, Stopping to trade for 
horses at the Ree villages near the mouth of the Grand, 
he was attacked by that most treacherous of the 
Missouri River tribes, received a sound drubbing, lost 
most of his horses, and was compelled to drop down 
stream to await reinforcements. It was in this battle 
that old Hugh Glass received his hip wound. 

Jedediah Smith, who was a member of the defeated 
party, and who had fought with conspicuous bravery, 
volunteered to carry the news of disaster to Henry 
at the mouth of the Yellowstone. He was then but 
twenty-four years old; yet during the next six years 
he was destined to discover and explore the central 
and southwestern routes to the Pacific an achieve 
ment of equal importance with that of Lewis and 
Clark, and performed under much greater difficulties. 
Immediately upon the arrival of Smith at the mouth 
of the Yellowstone, Henry, with most of his band, 
started south to the relief of Ashley. 

In the meanwhile, Ashley had apprised the Indian 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

Agent and military authorities at Fort Atkinson of his 
rough treatment; and Colonel Leavenworth started 
north with 220 men, intent upon chastising the Rees 
and making the Missouri River safe for American 
traders. The campaign that followed, in which the 
Whites were aided by a band of Sioux, was in some 
important respects a fiasco, as the opening lines of the 
poem suggest. But that does not greatly matter here. 

What does matter, is the fact that the muster roll 
of the two parties of Ashley and Henry, then united 
at the mouth of the Grand, contained nearly all of the 
great names in the history of the West from the time 
of Lewis and Clark to the coming of the settlers. 
Harrison Clifford Dale, whose " Ashley-Smith Ex 
plorations to the Pacific'* easily ranks him as the 
supreme authority on this particular period, has the 
following to say regarding the Ashley-Henry men : 
"The wanderings of this group during the next ten 
or fifteen years cover the entire West. ... It was the 
most significant group of continental explorers ever 
brought together." 

After the Leavenworth campaign against the Rees, 
Major Henry, with eighty men, set out for the mouth 
of the Big Horn by way of the Grand River valley. 
Hugh Glass acted as hunter for the \Vestbound party, 
and it is at this point that the following narrative be 
gins. Old Glass was not himself an explorer, yet his 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

adventures serve to illustrate the heroic temper of 
the men who explored the West, as well as the nature 
of the difficulties they encountered. 

In building the epic cycle, of which "The Song of 
Hugh Glass" and "The Song of Three Friends" are 
parts (each, however, being complete in itself), I am 
concerned with the wanderings of that group of men 
who were assembled for the last time at the mouth of 
the Grand. Long ago, when I was younger than most 
of you who are now about to study the poem here 
presented, I dreamed of making those men live again 
for the young men and women of my country. The 
tremendous mood of heroism that was developed in 
our American West during that period is properly a 
part of your racial inheritance ; and certainly no less 
important a part than the memory of ancient heroes. 
Indeed, it can be shown that those men Kentuck- 
ians, Virginians, Pennsylvanians, Ohioans were 
direct descendants, in the epic line, of all the heroes 
of our Aryan race that have been celebrated by the 
poets of he Past; descendants of Achilles and Hector, 
of ./Eneas, of Roland, of Sigurd, and of the knights 
of Arthur's court. They went as torch-bearers in the 
van of our westering civilization. Your Present is, 
in a great measure', a heritage from their Past. 

And their blood is in your veins ! 

JOHN G. NEIHARDT. 



THE SONG OF HUGH GLASS 



SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

I 

GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 
The year was eighteen hundred twenty three. 

'TwAS when the guns that blustered at the Ree 
Had ceased to brag, and ten score martial clowns 
Turned from the unwhipped Aricara towns, 
Earning the scornful laughter of the Sioux. 
A withering blast the arid South still blew, 
And creeks ran thin beneath the glaring sky; 
For 'twas a month ere honking geese would fly 
Southward before the Great White Hunter's face : 
And many generations of their race, 
As bow-flung arrows, now have fallen spent. 

It happened then that Major Henry went 
With eighty trappers up the dwindling Grand, 
Bound through the weird, unfriending barren-land 
For where the Big Horn meets the Yellowstone ; 
And old Hugh Glass went with them. 

Large of bone, 



2 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Deep-chested, that his great heart might have 

play, 

Gray-bearded, gray of eye and crowned with gray 
Was Glass. It seemed he never had been young; 
And, for the grudging habit of his tongue, 
None knew the place or season of his birth. 
Slowly he 'woke to anger or to mirth ; 
Yet none laughed louder when the rare mood 

fell, 

And hate in him was like a still, white hell, 
A thing of doom not lightly reconciled. 
What memory he kept of wife or child 
Was never told ; for when his comrades sat 
About the evening fire with pipe and chat, 
Exchanging talk of home and gentler days, 
Old Hugh stared long upon the pictured blaze, 
And what he saw went upward in the smoke. 

But once, as with an inner lightning stroke, 
The veil was rent, and briefly men discerned 
What pent-up fires of selfless passion burned 
Beneath the still gray smoldering of him. 
There was a rakehell lad, called Little Jim, 
Jamie -or Petit Jacques; for scarce began 
The downy beard to mark him for a man. 
Blue-eyed was he and femininely fair. 
A maiden might have coveted his hair 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 3 

That trapped the sunlight in its tangled skein : 
So, tardily, outflowered the wild blond strain 
That gutted Rome grown overfat in sloth. 
A Ganymedes haunted by a Goth 
Was Jamie. When the restive ghost was laid, 
He seemed some fancy-ridden child who played 
At manliness 'mid all those bearded men. . 
The sternest heart was drawn to Jamie then. 
But his one mood ne'er linked two hours together. 
To schedule Jamie's way, as prairie weather, 
Was to get fact by wedding doubt and whim ; 
For very lightly slept that ghost in him. 
No cloudy brooding went before his wrath 
That, like a thunder-squall, recked not its path, 
But raged upon what happened in its way. 
Some called him brave who saw him on that day 
When Ashley stormed a bluff town of the Ree, 
And all save beardless Jamie turned to flee 
For shelter from that steep, lead-harrowed slope. 
Yet, hardly courage, but blind rage agrope 
Inspired the foolish deed. 

'Twas then old Hugh 
Tore off the gray mask, and the heart shone 

through. 

For, halting in a dry, flood-guttered draw, 
The trappers rallied, looked aloft and saw 



4 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

That travesty of war against the sky. 

Out of a breathless hush, the old man's cry 

Leaped shivering, an anguished cry and wild 

As of some mother fearing for her child, 

And up the steep he went with mighty bounds. 

Long afterward the story went the rounds, 

How old Glass fought that day. With gun for 

club, 

Grim as a grizzly fighting for a cub, 
He laid about him, cleared the way, and so, 
Supported by the firing from below, 
Brought Jamie back. And when the deed was 

done, 

Taking the lad upon his knee : "My Son, 
Brave men are not ashamed to fear," said Hugh, 
"And I've a mind to make a man of you; 
So here's your first acquaintance with the law!" 
Whereat he spanked the lad with vigorous paw 
And, having done so, limped away to bed ; 
For, wounded in the hip, the old man bled. 

It was a month before he hobbled out, 
And Jamie, like a fond son, hung about 
The old man's tent and waited upon him. 
And often would the deep gray eyes grow dim 
With gazing on the boy ; and there would go 
As though Spring-fire should waken out of snow 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 5 

A wistful light across that mask of gray. 
And once Hugh smiled his enigmatic way, 
While poring long on Jamie's face, and said : 
"So with their sons are women brought to bed, 
Sore wounded !" 

Thus united were the two : 

.And some would dub the old man 'Mother Hugh' ; 
While those in whom all living waters sank 
To some dull inner pool that teemed and stank 
With formless evil, into that morass 
Gazed, and saw darkly there, as in a glass, 
The foul shape of some weakly envied sin. 
For each man builds a world and dwells therein. 
Nor could these know what mocking ghost of 

Spring 

Stirred Hugh's gray world with dreams of blossom 
ing 

That wooed no seed to swell or bird to sing. 
So might a dawn-struck digit of the moon 
Dream back the rain of some old lunar June 
And ache through all its craters to be green. 
Little they know what life's one love can mean, 
Who shrine it in a bower of peace and bliss : 
Pang dwelling in a puckered cicatrice 
More truly figures this belated love. 
Yet very precious was the hurt thereof, 
Grievous to bear, too dear to cast away. 



6 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Now Jamie went with Hugh ; but who shall say 

If 'twas a warm heart or a wind of whim, 

Love, or the rover's teasing itch in him, 

Moved Jamie ? Howsoe'er, 'twas good to see 

Graybeard and Goldhair riding knee to knee, 

One age in young adventure. One who saw 

Has likened to a February thaw 

Hugh's mellow mood those days ; and truly so, 

For when the tempering Southwest wakes to blow 

A phantom April over melting snow, 

Deep in the North some new white wrath is 

brewed. 

Out of a dim-trailed inner solitude 
The old man summoned many a stirring story, 
Lived grimly once, but now shot through with 

glory 
Caught from the wondering eyes of him who 

heard - 

Tales jagged with the bleak unstudied word, 
Stark saga-stuff. "A fellow that I knew," 
So nameless went the hero that was Hugh 
A mere pelt merchant, as it seemed to him ; 
Yet trailing epic thunders through the dim, 
Whist world of Jamie's awe. 

And so they went, 

One heart, it seemed, and that heart well content 
With tale and snatch of song and careless laughter. 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 7 

Never before, and surely never after, 
The gray old man seemed nearer to his youth 
That myth that somehow had to be the truth, 
Yet could not be convincing any more. 

Now when the days of travel numbered four 
And nearer drew the barrens with their need, 
On Glass, the hunter, fell the task to feed 
Those four score hungers when the game should 

fail. 

For no young eye could trace so dim a trail, 
Or line the rifle sights with speed so true. 
Nor might the wistful Jamie go with Hugh ; 
''For," so Hugh chaffed, "my trick of getting 

game 
Might teach young eyes to put old eyes to 

shame. 

An old dog never risks his only bone." 
' Wolves prey in packs, the lion hunts alone ' 
Is somewhat nearer what he should have meant. 

And so with merry jest the old man went ; 
And so they parted at an unseen gate 
That even then some gust of moody fate 
Clanged to betwixt them ; each a tale to spell 
One in the nightmare scrawl of dreams from hell, 
One in the blistering trail of days a-crawl, 



8 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Venomous footed. Nor might it ere befall 
These two should meet in after days and be 
Graybeard and Goldhair riding knee to knee, 
Recounting with a bluff, heroic scorn 
The haps of either tale. 

'Twas early morn 

When Hugh went forth, and all day Jamie rode 
With Henry's men, while more and more the 

goad 

Of eager youth sore fretted him, and made 
The dusty progress of the cavalcade 
The journey of a snail flock to the moon ; 
Until the shadow-weaving afternoon 
Turned many fingers nightward then he fled, 
Pricking his horse, nor deigned to turn his head 
At any dwindling voice of reprimand ; 
For somewhere in the breaks along the Grand 
Surely Hugh waited with a goodly kill. 
Hoofbeats of ghostly steeds on every hill, 
Mysterious, muffled hoofs on every bluff! 
Spurred echo horses clattering up the rough 
Confluent draws ! These flying Jamie heard. 
The lagging air droned like the drowsy word 
Of one who tells weird stories late at night. 
Half headlong joy and half delicious fright, 
His day-dream's pace outstripped the plunging 

steed's. 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 9 

Lean galloper in a wind of splendid deeds, 
Like Hugh's, he seemed unto himself, until, 
Snorting, a-haunch above a breakneck hill, 
The horse stopped short then Jamie was aware 
Of lonesome flatlands fading skyward there 
Beneath him, and, zigzag on either hand, 
A purple haze denoted how the Grand 
Forked wide 'twixt sunset and the polar star. 

A-tiptoe in the stirrups, gazing far, 
He saw no Hugh nor any moving thing, 
Save for a welter of cawing crows, a-wing 
About some banquet in the further hush. 
One faint star, set above the fading blush 
Of sunset, saw the coming night, and grew. 
With hand for trumpet, Jamie gave halloo ; 
And once again. For answer, the horse neighed. 
Some vague mistrust now made him half afraid 
Some formless dread that stirred beneath the will 
As far as sleep from waking. 

Down -the hill, 

Close-footed in the skitter of the shale, 
The spurred horse floundered to the solid vale 
And galloped to the northwest, whinnying. 
The outstripped air moaned like a wounded thing; 
But Jamie gave the lie unto his dread. 
"The old man's camping out to-night," he said, 



io SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

" Somewhere about the forks, as like as not ; 
And there'll be hunks of fresh meat steaming hot, 
And fighting stories by a dying fire!" 

The sunset reared a luminous phantom spire 
That, crumbling, sifted ashes down the sky. 

Now, pausing, Jamie sent a searching cry 

Into the twilit river-skirting brush, 

And in the vast denial of the hush 

The champing of the snaffled horse seemed loud. 

Then, startling as a voice beneath a shroud, 
A muffled boom woke somewhere up the stream 
And, like vague thunder hearkened in a dream, 
Drawled back to silence. Now, with heart a- 

bound, 

Keen for the quarter of the perished sound, 
The lad spurred gaily ; for he doubted not 
His cry had brought Hugh's answering rifle shot. 
The laggard air was like a voice that sang, 
And Jamie half believed he sniffed the tang 
Of woodsmoke and the smell of flesh a-roast ; 
When presently before him, like a ghost, 
Upstanding, huge in twilight, arms flung wide, 
A gray form loomed. The wise horse reared and 

shied, 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 11 

Snorting his inborn terror of the bear ! 
And in the whirlwind of a moment there, 
Betwixt the brute's hoarse challenge and the 

charge, 

The lad beheld, upon the grassy marge 
Of a small spring that bullberries stooped to scan, 
A ragged heap that should have been a man, 
A huddled, broken thing and it was Hugh ! 

There was no need for any closer view. 

As, on the instant of a lightning flash 

Ere yet the split gloom closes with a crash, 

A landscape stares with every circumstance 

Of rock and shrub just so the fatal chance 

Of Hugh's one shot, made futile with surprise, 

Was clear to Jamie. Then before his eyes 

The light whirled in a giddy dance of red ; 

And, doubting not the crumpled thing was dead 

That was a friend, with but a skinning knife 

He would have striven for the hated life 

That triumphed there : but with a shriek of fright 

The mad horse bolted through the falling night, 

And Jamie, fumbling at his rifle boot, 

Heard the brush crash behind him where the brute 

Came headlong, close upon the straining flanks. 

But when at length low-lying river banks 

White rubble in the gloaming glimmered near, 



12 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

A swift thought swept the mind of Jamie clear 
Of anger and of anguish for the dead. 
Scarce seemed the raging beast a thing to dread, 
But some foul-playing braggart to outwit. 
Now hurling all his strength upon the bit, 
He sank the spurs, and with a groan of pain 
The plunging horse, obedient to the rein, 
Swerved sharply streamward. Sliddering in the 

sand, 

The bear shot past. And suddenly the Grand 
Loomed up beneath and rose to meet the pair 
That rode a moment upon empty air, 
Then smote the water in a shower of spray. 
And when again the slowly ebbing day 
Came back to them, a-drip from nose to flank, 
The steed was scrambling up the further bank, 
And Jamie saw across the narrow stream, 
Like some vague shape of fury in a dream, 
The checked beast ramping at the water's rim. 
Doubt struggled with a victor's thrill in him. 
As, hand to buckle of the rifle-sheath, 
He thought of dampened powder; but beneath 
The rawhide flap the gun lay snug and dry. 
Then as the horse wheeled and the mark went by 
A patch of shadow dancing upon gray - 
He fired. A sluggish thunder trailed away ; 
The spreading smoke-rack lifted slow, and there, 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 13 

Floundering in a seethe of foam, the bear 
Hugged yielding water for the foe that slew ! 

Triumphant, Jamie wondered what old Hugh 
Would think of such a "trick of getting game" ! 
"Young eyes" indeed ! And then that memory 

came, 

Like a dull blade thrust back into a wound. 
One moment 'twas as though the lad had swooned 
Into a dream-adventure, waking there 
To sicken at the ghastly land, a-stare 
Like some familiar face gone strange at last. 
But as the hot tears came, the moment passed. 
Song snatches, broken tales a troop forlorn, 
Like merry friends of eld come back to mourn 
O'erwhelmed him there. And when the black 

bulk churned 

The star-flecked stream no longer, Jamie turned, 
Recrossed the river and rode back to Hugh. 

A burning twist of valley grasses threw 
Blear light about the region of the spring. 
Then Jamie, torch aloft and shuddering, 
Knelt there beside his friend, and moaned : "O 

Hugh, 

If I had been with you just been with you ! 
We might be laughing now and you are dead." 



14 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

With gentle hand he turned the hoary head 
That he might see the good gray face again. 
The torch burned out, the dark swooped back, and 

then 

His grief was frozen with an icy plunge 
In horror. 'Twas as though a bloody sponge 
Had wiped the pictured features from a slate ! 
So, pillaged by an army drunk with hate, 
Home stares upon the homing refugee. 
A red gout clung where either brow should be; 
The haughty nose lay crushed amid the beard, 
Thick with slow ooze, whence like a devil leered 
The battered mouth convulsed into a grin. 

Nor did the darkness cover, for therein 
Some torch, unsnuffed, with blear funereal flare, 
Still painted upon black that alien stare 
To make the lad more terribly alone. 

Then in the gloom there rose a broken moan, 
Quick stifled ; and it seemed that something 

stirred 

About the body. Doubting that he heard, 
The lad felt, with a panic catch of breath, 
Pale vagrants from the legendry of death 
Potential in the shadows there. But when 
The motion and the moaning came again, 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 15 

Hope, like a shower at daybreak, cleansed the 

dark, 

And in the lad's heart something like a lark 
Sang morning. Bending low, he crooned : 

"Hugh, Hugh, 
It's Jamie don't you know ? I'm here with 

you." 

As one who in a nightmare strives to tell 
Shouting across the gap of some dim hell 
What things assail him ; so it seemed Hugh heard, 
And flung some unintelligible word 
Athwart the muffling distance of his swoon. 

Now kindled by the yet unrisen moon, 
The East went pale; and like a naked thing 
A little wind ran vexed and shivering 
Along the dusk, till Jamie shivered too 
And worried lest 'twere bitter cold where Hugh 
Hung clutching at the bleak, raw edge of life. 
So Jamie rose, and with his hunting-knife 
Split wood and built a fire. Nor did he fear 
The staring face now, for he found it dear 
With the warm presence of a friend returned. 
The fire made cozy chatter as it burned, 
And reared a tent of light in that lone place. 
Then Jamie set about to bathe the face 



1 6 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

With water from the spring, oft crooning low, 
"It's Jamie here beside you don't you know ?" 
Yet came no answer save the labored breath 
Of one who wrestled mightily with Death 
Where watched no referee to call the foul. 

The moon now cleared the world's end, and the 

owl 

Gave voice unto the wizardry of light ; 
While in some dim-lit chancel of the night, 
Snouts to the goddess, wolfish corybants 
Intoned their wild antiphonary chants 
The oldest, saddest worship in the world. 

And Jamie watched until the firelight swirled 
Softly about him. Sound and glimmer merged 
To make an eerie void, through which he urged 
With frantic spur some whirlwind of a steed 
That made the way as glass beneath his speed, 
Yet scarce kept pace with something dear that fled 
On, ever on just half a dream ahead : 
Until it seemed, by some vague shape dismayed, 
He cried aloud for Hugh, and the steed neighed 
A neigh that was a burst of light, not sound. 
And Jamie, sprawling on the dewy ground, 
Knew that his horse was sniffing at his hair, 
While, mumbling through the early morning air, 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 17 

There came a roll of many hoofs and then 
He saw the swinging troop of Henry's men 
A-canter up the valley with the sun. 

Of all Hugh's comrades crowding round, not one 
But would have given heavy odds on Death ; 
For, though the graybeard fought with sobbing 

breath, 

No man, it seemed, might break upon the hip 
So stern a wrestler with the strangling grip 
That made the neck veins like a purple thong 
Tangled with knots. Nor might Hugh tarry long 
There where the trail forked outward far and 

dim ; 

Or so it seemed. And when they lifted him, 
His moan went treble like a song of pain, 
He was so tortured. Surely it were vain 
To hope he might endure the toilsome ride 
Across the barrens. Better let him bide 
There on the grassy couch beside the spring. 
And, furthermore, it seemed a foolish thing 
That eighty men should wait the issue there; 
For dying is a game of solitaire 
And all men play the losing hand alone. 

But when at noon he had not ceased to moan, 
And fought still like the strong man he had been, 
c 



1 8 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

There grew a vague mistrust that he might win, 

And all this be a tale for wondering ears. 

So Major Henry called for volunteers, 

Two men among the eighty who would stay 

To wait on Glass and keep the wolves away 

Until he did whatever he should do. 

All quite agreed 'twas bitter bread for Hugh, 

Yet none, save Jamie, felt in duty bound 

To run the risk until the hat went round, 

And pity wakened, at the silver's clink, 

In Jules Le Bon. 

'He would not have them think 
That mercenary motives prompted him. 
But somehow just the grief of Little Jim 
Was quite sufficient not to mention Hugh. 
He weighed the risk. As everybody knew, 
The Rickarees were scattered to the West : 
The late campaign had stirred a hornet's nest 
To fill the land with stingers (which was so), 
And yet 

Three days a southwest wind may blow 
False April with no drop of dew at heart. 
So Jules ran on, while, ready for the start, 
The pawing horses nickered and the men, 
Impatient in their saddles, yawned. And then, 
With brief advice, a round of blufF good-byes 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 19 

And some few reassuring backward cries, 
The troop rode up the valley with the day. 

Intent upon his friend, with naught to say, 

Sat Jamie; while Le Bon discussed at length 

The reasonable limits of man's strength 

A self-conducted dialectic strife 

That made absurd all argument for life 

And granted but a fresh-dug hole for Hugh. 

'Twas half like murder. Yet it seemed Jules knew 

Unnumbered tales accordant with the case, 

Each circumstantial as to time and place 

And furnished with a death's head colophon. 

Vivaciously despondent, Jules ran on. 
'Did he not share his judgment with the rest ? 
You see, 'twas some contusion of the chest 
That did the trick heart, lungs and all that, 

mixed 

In such a way they never could be fixed. 
A bear's hug ugh ! ' 

And often Jamie winced 

At some knife-thrust of reason that convinced 
Yet left him sick with unrelinquished hope. 
As one who in a darkened room might grope 
For some beloved face, with shuddering 
Anticipation of a clammy thing ; 



20 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

So in the lad's heart sorrow fumbled round 

For some old joy to lean upon, and found 

The stark, cold something Jamie knew was there. 

Yet, womanlike, he stroked the hoary hair 

Or bathed the face; while Jules found tales to 

tell- 
Lugubriously garrulous. 

Night fell. 

At sundown, day-long winds are like to veer; 
So, summoning a mood of relished fear, 
Le Bon remembered dire alarms by night 
The swoop of savage hordes, the desperate fight 
Of men outnumbered : and, like him of old, 
In all that made Jules shudder as he told, 
His the great part a man by field and flood 
Fate-tossed. Upon the gloom he limned in blood 
Their situation's possibilities : 
Two men against the fury of the Rees 
A game in which two hundred men had failed ! 
He pointed out how little it availed 
To run the risk for one as good as dead ; 
Yet, Jules Le Bon meant every word he said, 
And had a scalp to lose, if need should be. 

That night through Jamie's dreaming swarmed 

the Ree. 
Gray-souled, he wakened to a dawn of gray, 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 21 

And felt that something strong had gone away, 

Nor knew what thing. Some whisper of the will 

Bade him rejoice that Hugh was living still ; 

But Hugh, the real, seemed somehow otherwhere. 

Jules, snug and snoring in his blanket there, 

Was half a life the nearer. Just so, pain 

Is nearer than the peace we seek in vain, 

And by its very sting compells belief. 

Jules woke, and with a fine restraint of grief 

Saw early dissolution. 'One more night, 

And then the poor old man would lose the fight 

Ah, such a man !' 

A day and night crept by, 
And yet the stubborn fighter would not die, 
But grappled with the angel. All the while, 
With some conviction, but with more of guile, 
Jules colonized the vacancy with Rees ; 
Till Jamie felt that looseness of the knees 
That comes of oozing courage. Many men 
May tower for a white-hot moment, when 
The wild blood surges at a sudden shock ; 
But when, insistent as a ticking clock, 
Blind peril haunts and whispers, fewer dare. 
Dread hovered in the hushed and moony air 
The long night through ; nor might a fire be lit, 
Lest some far-seeing foe take note of it. 
And day-long Jamie scanned the blank sky rim 



22 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

For hoof-flung dust clouds ; till there woke in him 
A childish anger dumb for ruth and shame 
That Hugh so dallied. 

But the fourth dawn came 
And with it lulled the fight, as on a field 
Where broken armies sleep but will not yield. 
Or had one conquered ? Was it Hugh or Death ? 
The old man breathed with faintly fluttering 

breath, 

Nor did his body shudder as before. 
Jules triumphed sadly. 'It would soon be o'er; 
So men grew quiet when they lost their grip 
And did not care. At sundown he would slip 
Into the deeper silence/ 

Jamie wept, 

Unwitting how a furtive gladness crept 
Into his heart that gained a stronger beat. 
So cities, long beleaguered, take defeat 
Unto themselves half traitors. 

Jules began 

To dig a hole that might conceal a man ; 
And, as his sheath knife broke the stubborn sod, 
He spoke in kindly vein of Life and God 
And Mutability and Rectitude. 
The immemorial funerary mood 
Brought tears, mute tribute to the mother-dust ; 
And Jamie, seeing, felt each cutting thrust 
Less like a stab into the flesh of Hugh. 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 23 

The sun crept up and down the arc of blue 
And through the air a chill of evening ran ; 
But, though the grave yawned, waiting for the 

man, 
The man seemed scarce yet ready for the grave. 

Now prompted by a coward or a knave 
That lurked in him, Le Bon began to hear 
Faint sounds that to the lad's less cunning ear 
Were silence ; more like tremors of the ground 
They were, Jules said, than any proper sound 
Thus one detected horsemen miles away. 
For many moments big with fate, he lay, 
Ear pressed to earth; then rose and shook his 

head 
As one perplexed. "There's something wrong," 

he said. 

And as at daybreak whiten winter skies, 
Agape and staring with a wild surmise 
The lad's face whitened at the other's word. 
Jules could not quite interpret what he heard ; 
A hundred horse might noise their whereabouts 
In just that fashion ; yet he had his doubts. 
It could be bison moving, quite as well. 
But if 'twere Rees there'd be a tale to tell 
That two men he might name should never hear. 
He reckoned scalps that Fall were selling dear, 



24 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

In keeping with the limited supply. 
Men, fit to live, were not afraid to die ! 

Then, in that caution suits not courage ill, 
Jules saddled up and cantered to the hill, 
A white dam set against the twilight stream ; 
And as a horseman riding in a dream 
The lad beheld him ; watched him clamber up 
To where the dusk, as from a brimming cup, 
Ran over; saw him pause against the gloom, 
Portentous, huge a brooder upon doom. 
What did he look upon ? 

Some moments passed ; 
Then suddenly it seemed as though a blast 
Of wind, keen-cutting with the whips of sleet, 
Smote horse and rider. Haunched on huddled feet, 
The steed shrank from the ridge, then, rearing, 

wheeled 
And took the rubbly incline fury-heeled. 

Those days and nights, like seasons creeping slow, 
Had told on Jamie. Better blow on blow 
Of evil hap, with doom seen clear ahead, 
Than that monotonous, abrasive dread, 
Blind gnawer at the soul-thews of the blind. 
Thin-worn, the last heart-string that held him 
kind; 



GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 25 

Strung taut, the final tie that kept him true 
Now snapped in Jamie, as he saw the two 
So goaded by some terrifying sight. 
Death riding with the vanguard of the Night, 
Life dwindling yonder with the rear of Day ! 
What choice for one whom panic swept away 
From moorings in the sanity of will ? 

Jules came and summed the vision of the hill 
In one hoarse cry that left no word to say : 
"Rees ! Saddle up ! We've got to get away !" 

Small wit had Jamie left to ferret guile, 
But fumblingly obeyed Le Bon ; the while 
Jules knelt beside the man who could not flee : 
For big hearts lack not time for charity 
However thick the blows of fate may fall. 
Yet, in that Jules Le Bon was practical, 
He could not quite ignore a hunting knife, 
A flint, a gun, a blanket gear of life 
Scarce suited to the customs of the dead ! 

And Hugh slept soundly in his ample bed, 
Star-canopied and blanketed with night, 
Unwitting how Venality and Fright 
Made hot the westward trail of Henry's men. 



II 

THE AWAKENING 

No one may say what time elapsed, or when 

The slumberous shadow lifted over Hugh : 

But some globose immensity of blue 

Enfolded him at last, within whose light 

He seemed to float, as some faint swimmer might, 

A deep beneath and overhead a deep. 

So one late plunged into the lethal sleep, 

A spirit diver fighting for his breath, 

Swoops through the many-fathomed glooms of 

death, 
Emerging in a daylight strange and new. 

Rousing a languid wonder, came on Hugh 
The quiet, steep-arched splendor of the day. 
Agrope for some dim memory, he lay 
Upon his back, and watched a lucent fleece 
Fade in the blue profundity of peace 
As did the memory he sought in vain. 
Then with a stirring of mysterious pain, 
26 



THE AWAKENING 27 

Old habit of the body bade him rise; 
But when he would obey, the hollow skies 
Broke as a bubble punctured, and went out. 

Again he woke, and with a drowsy doubt, 

Remote unto his horizontal gaze 

He saw the world's end kindle to a blaze 

And up the smoky steep pale heralds run. 

And when at length he knew it for the sun, 

Dawn found the darkling reaches of 'his mind, 

Where in the twilight he began to find 

Strewn shards and torsos of familiar things. 

As from the rubble in a place of kings 

Men school the dream to build the past anew, 

So out of dream and fragment builded Hugh, 

And came upon the reason of his plight : 

The bear's attack the shot and then the 

night 
Wherein men talked as ghosts above a grave. 

Some consciousness of will the memory gave : 
He would get up. The painful effort spent 
Made the wide heavens billow as a tent 
Wind-struck, the shaken prairie sag and roll. 
Some moments with an effort at control 
He swayed, half raised upon his arms, until 
The dizzy cosmos righted, and was still. 



28 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Then would he stand erect and be again 
The man he was : an overwhelming pain 
Smote him to earth, and one unruly limb 
Refused the weight and crumpled under him. 

Sickened with torture he lay huddled there, 
Gazing about him with a great despair 
Proportioned to the might that felt the chain. 
Far-flung as dawn, collusive sky and plain 
Stared bleak 'denial back. 

Why strive at all ? 
That vacancy about him like a wall, 
Yielding as light, a granite scarp to climb ! 
Some little waiting on the creep of time, 
Abandonment to circumstance ; and then 

Here flashed a sudden thought of Henry's men 
Into his mind and drove the gloom away. 
They would be riding westward with the day ! 
How strange he had forgot ! That battered leg 
Or some scalp wound, had set his wits a-beg ! 
Was this Hugh Glass to whimper like a squaw ? 
Grimly amused, he raised his head and saw 
The empty distance : listened long and heard 
Naught but the twitter of a lonely bird 
That emphasized the hush. 

Was something wrong ? 



THE AWAKENING 29 

'Twas not the Major's way to dally long, 

And surely they had camped not far behind. 

Now woke a query in his troubled mind 

Where was his horse ? Again came creeping back 

The circumstances of the bear's attack. 

He had dismounted, thinking at the spring 

To spend the night and then the grisly thing 

Of course the horse had bolted ; plain enough ! 

But why was all the soil about so rough 

As though a herd of horses had been there ? 

The riddle vexed him till his vacant stare 

Fell on a heap of earth beside a pit. 

What did that mean ? He wormed his way to it, 

The newly wakened wonder dulling pain. 

No paw of beast had scooped it that was plain. 

'Twas squared; indeed, 'twas like a grave, he 

thought. 

A grave a grave the mental echo wrought 
Sick fancies ! Who had risen from the dead ? 
Who, lying there, had heard above his head 
The ghostly talkers deaf unto his shout ? 

Now searching all the region round about, 
As though the answer were a lurking thing, 
He saw along the margin of the spring 
An ash-heap and the litter of a camp. 
Suspicion, like a little smoky lamp 



30 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

That daubs the murk but cannot fathom it, 
Flung blear grotesques before his groping wit. 
Had Rees been there ? And he alive ? Who 

then ? 

And were he dead, it might be Henry's men ! 
How many suns had risen while he slept ? 
The smoky glow flared wildly, and he crept, 
The dragged limb throbbing, till at length he 

found 

The trail of many horses westward bound ; 
And in one breath the groping light became 
A gloom-devouring ecstasy of flame, 
A dazing conflagration of belief! 

Plunged deeper than the seats of hate and grief, 
He gazed about for aught that might deny 
Such baseness : saw the non-committal sky, 
The prairie apathetic in a shroud, 
The bland complacence of a vagrant cloud 
World-wide connivance ! Smilingly the sun 
Approved a land wherein such deeds were done; 
And careless breezes, like a troop of youth, 
Unawed before the presence of such truth, 
Went scampering amid the tousled brush. 
Then bye and bye came on him with a rush 
His weakness and the consciousness of pain, 
While, with the chill insistence of a rain 



THE AWAKENING 31 

That pelts the sodden wreck of Summer's end y 
His manifest betrayal by a friend 
Beat in upon him. Jamie had been there ; 
And Jamie Jamie Jamie did not care ! 

What no man yet had witnessed, the wide sky 
Looked down and saw ; a light wind idling by 
Heard what no ear of mortal yet had heard : 
For he whose name was like a magic word 
To conjure the remote heroic mood 
Of valiant deed and splendid fortitude, 
Wherever two that shared a fire might be, 
Gave way to grief and wept unmanfully. 
Yet not as they for whom tears fall like dew 
To green a frosted heart again, wept Hugh. 
So thewed to strive, so engined to prevail 
And make harsh fate the zany of a tale, 
His own might shook and tore him. 

For a span 

He lay, a gray old ruin of a man 
With all his years upon him like a snow. 
And then at length, as from the long ago, 
Remote beyond the other side of wrong, 
The old love came like some remembered song 
Whereof the strain is sweet, the burden sad. 
A retrospective vision of the lad 
Grew up in him, as in a foggy night 



32 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

The witchery of semilunar light 

Mysteriously quickens all the air. 

Some memory of wind-blown golden hair, 

The boyish laugh, the merry eyes of blue, 

Wrought marvelously in the heart of Hugh, 

As under snow the daemon of the Spring. 

And momently it seemed a little thing 

To suffer ; nor might treachery recall 

The miracle of being loved at all, 

The privilege of loving to the end. 

And thereupon a longing for his friend 

Made life once more a struggle for a prize 

To look again upon the merry eyes, 

To see again the wind-blown golden hair. 

Aye, one should lavish very tender care 

Upon the vessel of a hope so great, 

Lest it be shattered, and the precious freight, 

As water on the arid waste, poured out. 

Yet, though he longed to live, a subtle doubt 

Still turned on him the weapon of his pain : 

Now, as before, collusive sky and plain 

Outstared his purpose for a puny thing. 

- s. 

Praying to live, he crawled back to the spring, 
With something in his heart like gratitude 
That by good luck his gun might furnish food, 
His blanket, shelter, and his flint, a fire. 



THE AWAKENING 33 

For, after all, what thing do men desire 
To be or have, but these condition it ? 
These with a purpose and a little wit, 
And howsoever smitten, one might rise, 
Push back the 'curtain of the curving skies, 
And come upon the living dream at last. 

Exhausted, by the spring he lay and cast 

Dull eyes about him. What did it portend ? 

Naught but the footprints of a fickle friend, 

A yawning grave and ashes met his eyes ! 

Scarce feeling yet the shock of a surprise, 

He searched about him for his flint and knife ; 

Knew vaguely that his seeking was for life, 

And that the place was empty where he sought. 

No food, no fire, no shelter ! Dully wrought 

The bleak negation in him, slowly crept 

To where, despite the pain, his love had kept 

A shrine for Jamie undefiled of doubt. 

Then suddenly conviction, like a shout, 

Aroused him. Jamie Jamie was a thief! 

The very difficulty of belief 

Was fuel for the simmering of rage; 

That grew and grew, the more he strove to gage 

The underlying motive of the deed. 

Untempered youth might fail a friend in need ; 

But here had wrought some devil of the will, 



34 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Some heartless thing, too cowardly to kill, 
That left to Nature what it dared not do ! 



So bellowsed, all the kindled soul of Hugh 
Became a still white hell of brooding ire, 
And through his veins regenerating fire 
Ran, driving out the lethargy of pain. 
Now once again he scanned the yellow plain, 
Conspirant with the overbending skies ; 
And lo, the one was blue as Jamie's eyes, 
The other of the color of his hair 
Twin hues of falseness merging to a stare, 
As though such guilt, thus visibly immense, 
Regarded its effect with insolence ! 

Alas for those who fondly place above 
The act of loving, what they chance to love ; 
Who prize the goal more dearly than the way ! 
For time shall plunder them, and change betray, 
And life shall find them vulnerable still. 

A bitter-sweet narcotic to the will, 
Hugh's love increased the peril of his plight ; 
But anger broke the slumber of his might, 
Quickened the heart and warmed the blood that 

ran 
Defiance for the treachery of Man, 



THE AWAKENING 35 

Defiance for the meaning of his pain, 
Defiance for the distance of the plain 
That seemed to gloat, 'You can not master me.' 
And for one burning moment he felt free 
To rise and conquer in a wind of rage. 
But as a tiger, conscious of the cage, 
A-smoulder with a purpose, broods and waits, 
So with the sullen patience that is hate's 
Hugh taught his wrath to bide expedience. 

Now cognizant of every quickened sense, 
Thirst came upon him. Leaning to the spring, 
He stared with fascination on a thing 
That rose from giddy deeps to share the draught 
A face, it was, so tortured that it laughed, 
A ghastly mask that Murder well might wear; 
And while as one they drank together there, 
It was as though the deed he meant to do 
Took shape and came to kiss the lips of Hugh, 
Lest that revenge might falter. Hunger woke ; 
And from the bush with leafage gray as smoke, 
Wherein like flame the bullberries glinted red 
(Scarce sweeter than the heart of him they fed), 
Hugh feasted. 

And the hours of waiting crept, 
A-gloom, a-glow ; and though he waked or slept, 
The pondered purpose or a dream that wrought, 



36 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

By night, the murder of his waking thought, 
Sustained him till he felt his strength returned. 
And then at length the longed-for morning burned 
And beckoned down the vast way he should crawl 
That waste to be surmounted as a wall, 
Sky-rims and yet more sky-rims steep to climb 
That simulacrum of enduring Time 
The hundred empty miles 'twixt him and where 
The stark Missouri ran ! 

Yet why not dare ? 

Despite the useless leg, he could not die 
One hairsbreadth farther from the earth and sky, 
Or more remote from kindness. 



Ill 

THE CRAWL 

STRAIGHT away 

Beneath the flare of dawn, the Ree land lay, 
And through it ran the short trail to the goal. 
Thereon a grim turnpikeman waited toll : 
But 'twas so doomed that southering geese should 

flee 

Nine times, ere yet the vengeance of the Ree 
Should make their foe the haunter of a tale. 

Midway to safety on the northern trail 
The scoriae region of a hell burned black 
Forbade the crawler. And for all his lack, 
Hugh had no heart to journey with the suns : 
No suppliant unto those faithless ones 
Should bid for pity at the Big Horn's mouth. 

The greater odds for safety in the South 
Allured him ; so he felt the midday sun 
Blaze down the coulee of a little run 

37 



38 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

That dwindled upward to the watershed 
Whereon the feeders of the Moreau head 
Scarce more than deep-carved runes of vernal 

rain. 

The trailing leg was like a galling chain, 
And bound him to a doubt that would not pass. 
Defiant clumps of thirst-embittered grass 
That bit parched earth with bared and fang-like 

roots ; 

Dwarf thickets, jealous for their stunted fruits, 
Harsh-tempered by their disinheritance 
These symbolized the enmity of Chance 
For him who, with his fate unreconciled, 
Equipped for travel as a weanling child, 
Essayed the journey of a mighty man. 

Like agitated oil the heat-waves ran 

And made the scabrous gulch appear to shake 

As some reflected landscape in a lake 

Where laggard breezes move. A taunting reek 

Rose from the grudging seepage of the creek, 

Whereof Hugh drank and drank, and still would 

drink. 

And where the mottled shadow dripped as ink 
From scanty thickets on the yellow glare, 
The crawler faltered with no heart to dare 
Again the torture of that toil, until 



THE CRAWL 39 

The master-thought of vengeance 'woke the will 

To goad him forth. And when the sun quiesced 

Amid ironic heavens in the West 

The region of false friends Hugh gained a rise 

Whence to the fading cincture of the skies 

A purpling panorama swept away. 

Scarce farther than a shout might carry, lay 

The place of his betrayal. He could see 

The yellow blotch of earth where treachery 

Had digged his grave. O futile wrath and toil ! 

Tucked in beneath yon coverlet of soil, 

Turned back for him, how soundly had he slept ! 

Fool, fool ! to struggle when he might have crept 

So short a space, yet farther than the flight 

Of swiftest dreaming through the longest night, 

Into the quiet house of no false friend. 

Alas for those who seek a journey's end 
They have it ever with them like a ghost : 
Nor shall they find, who deem they seek it most, 
But crave the end of human ends as Hugh. 

Now swoopingly the world of dream broke through 
The figured wall of sense. It seemed he ran 
As wind above the creeping ways of man, 
And came upon the place of his desire, 
Where burned, far-luring as a beacon-fire, 



40 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

The face of Jamie. But the vengeful stroke 
Bit air. The darkness lifted like a smoke 
And it was early morning. 

Gazing far, 

From where the West yet kept a pallid star 
To thinner sky where dawn was wearing through, 
Hugh shrank with dread, reluctant to renew 
The war with that serene antagonist. 
More fearsome than a smashing iron fist 
Seemed that vast negativity of might ; 
Until the frustrate vision of the night 
Came moonwise on the gloom of his despair. 
And lo, the foe was naught but yielding air, 
A vacancy to fill with his intent ! 
So from his spacious bed he 'rose and went 
Three-footed ; and the vision goaded him. 

All morning southward to the bare sky rim 
The rugged coulee zigzagged, mounting slow ; 
And ever as it 'rose, the lean creek's flow 
Dwindled and dwindled steadily, until 
At last a scooped-out basin would not fill ; 
And thenceforth 'twas a way of mocking dust. 
But, in that Hugh still kept the driving lust 
For vengeance, this new circumstance of fate 
Served but to brew more venom for his hate, 
And nerved him to avail the most with least. 



THE CRAWL 41 

Ere noon the crawler chanced upon a feast 
Of bread-root sunning in a favored draw. 
A sentry gopher from his stronghold saw 
Some three-legged beast, bear-like, yet not a bear, 
With quite misguided fury digging where 
No hapless brother gopher might be found. 
And while, with striped nose above his mound, 
The sentinel chirped shrilly to his clan 
Scare-tales of that anomaly, the man 
Devoured the chance-flung manna of the plains 
That some vague reminiscence of old rains 
Kept succulent, despite the burning drouth. 

So with new vigor Hugh assailed the South, 
His pockets laden with the precious roots 
Against that coming traverse, where no fruits 
Of herb or vine or shrub might brave the land 
Spread rooflike 'twixt the Moreau and the Grand. 

The coulee deepened ; yellow walls flung high, 
Sheer to the ragged strip of blinding sky, 
Dazzled and sweltered in the glare of day. 
Capricious draughts that woke and died away 
Into the heavy drowse, were breatht as flame. 
And midway down the afternoon, Hugh came 
Upon a little patch of spongy ground. 
His thirst became a rage. He gazed around, 



42 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Seeking a spring ; but all about was dry 

As strewn bones bleaching to a desert sky ; 

Nor did a clawed hole, bought with needed 

strength, 

Return a grateful ooze. And when at length 
Hugh sucked the mud, he spat it in disgust. 
It had the acrid tang of broken trust, 
The sweetish, tepid taste of feigning love ! 

Still hopeful of a spring somewhere above, 
He crawled the faster for his taunted thirst. 
More damp spots, no less grudging than the first, 
Occurred with growing frequence on the way, 
Until amid the purple wane of day 
The crawler came upon a little pool ! 
Clear as a friend's heart, 'twas, and seeming cool 
A crystal bowl whence skyey deeps looked up. 
So might a god set down his drinking cup 
Charged with a distillation of haut skies. 
As famished horses, thrusting to the eyes 
Parched muzzles, take a long-sought water-hole, 
Hugh plunged his head into the brimming bowl 
As though to share the joy with every sense. 
And lo, the tang of that wide insolence 
Of sky and plain was acrid in the draught.' 
How ripplingly the lying water laughed ! 
How like fine sentiment the mirrored sky 



THE CRAWL 43 

Won credence for a sink of alkali ! 
So with false friends. And yet, as may accrue 
From specious love some profit of the true, 
One gift of kindness had the tainted sink. 
Stripped of his clothes, Hugh let his body drink 
At every thirsting pore. Through trunk and 

limb 

The elemental blessing solaced him ; 
Nor did he rise till, vague with stellar light, 
The lone gulch, buttressing an arch of night, 
Was like a temple to the Holy Ghost. 
As priests in slow procession with the Host, 
A gusty breeze intoned now low, now loud, 
And now, as to the murmur of a crowd, 
Yielding the dim-torched wonder of the nave. 
Aloft along the dusky architrave 
The wander-tale of drifting stars evolved ; 
And Hugh lay gazing till the whole resolved 
Into a haze. 

It seemed that Little Jim 
Had come to share a merry fire with him, 
And there had been no trouble 'twixt the two. 
And Jamie listened eagerly while Hugh 
Essayed a tangled tale of bears and men, 
Bread-root and stars. But ever now and then 
The shifting smoke-cloud dimmed the golden hair, 
The leal blue eyes ; until with sudden flare 



44 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

The flame effaced them utterly and lo, 
The gulch bank-full with morning ! 

Loath to go, 

Hugh lay beside the pool and pondered fate. 
He saw his age-long pilgrimage of hate 
Stretch out a fool's trail ; and it made him 

cringe ; 

For still amid the nightly vision's fringe 
His dull wit strayed, companioned with regret. 
But when the sun, a tilted cauldron set 
Upon the gulch rim, poured a blaze of day, 
He rose and bathed again, and went his way, 
Sustaining wrath returning with the toil. 

At noon the gulch walls, hewn in lighter soil, 
Fell back ; and coulees dense with shrub and vine 
Climbed zigzag to the sharp horizon line, 
Whence one might choose the pilotage of crows. 
He labored upward through the noonday doze. 
Of breathless shade, where plums were turning 

red 

In tangled bowers, and grapevines overhead 
Purpled with fruit to taunt the crawler's thirst. 
With little effort Hugh attained the first ; 
The latter bargained sharply ere they sold 
Their luscious clusters for the hoarded gold 
Of strength that had so very much to buy. 



THE CRAWL 45 

Now, having feasted, it was sweet to lie 
Beneath a sun-proof canopy ; and sleep 
Came swiftly. 

Hugh awakened to some deep 
Star-snuffing well of night. Awhile he lay 
And wondered what had happened to the day 
And where he was and what were best to do. 
But when, fog-like, the drowse dispersed, he knew 
How from the rim above the plain stretched far 
To where the evening and the morning are, 
And that 'twere better he should crawl by night, 
Sleep out the glare. With groping hands for 

sight, 

Skyward along the broken steep he crawled, 
And saw at length, immense and purple-walled 
Or sensed the dusky mystery of plain. 
Gazing aloft, he found the capsized Wain 
In mid-plunge down the polar steep. Thereto 
He set his back ; and far ahead there grew, 
As some pale blossom from a darkling root, 
The star-blanched summit of a lonely butte, 
And thitherward he dragged his heavy limb. 

It seemed naught moved. Time hovered over 

him, 

An instant of incipient endeavor. 
'Twas ever thus, and should be thus forever 



46 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

This groping for the same armful of space, 
An insubstantial essence of one place, 
Extentless on a weird frontier of sleep. 
Sheer deep upon unfathomable deep 
The flood of dusk bore down without a sound, 
As ocean on the spirits of the drowned 
Awakened headlong leagues beneath the light. 

So lapsed the drowsy aeon of the night 
A strangely tensile moment in a trance. 
And then, as quickened to somnambulance, 
The heavens, imperceptibly in motion, 
Were altered as the upward deeps of ocean 
Diluted with a seepage of the moon. 
The butte-top, late a gossamer balloon 
In mid-air tethered hovering, grew down 
And rooted in a blear expanse of brown, 
That, lifting slowly with the ebb of night, 
Took on the harsh solidity of light 
And day was on the prairie like a flame. 

Scarce had he munched the hoarded roots, when 

came 

A vertigo of slumber. Snatchy dreams 
Of sick pools, inaccessible cool streams, 
Lured on through giddy vacancies of heat 
In swooping flights ; now hills of roasting meat 



THE CRAWL 47 

Made savory the oven of the world, 
Yet kept remote peripheries and whirled 
About a burning center that was Hugh. 
Then all were gone, save one, and it turned blue 
And was a heap of cool and luscious fruit, 
Until at length he knew it for the butte 
Now mantled with a weaving of the gloam. 

It was the hour when cattle straggle home. 
Across the clearing in a hush of sleep 
They saunter, lowing; loiter belly-deep 
Amid the lush grass by the meadow stream. 
How like the sound of water in a dream 
The intermittent tinkle of yon bell. 
A windlass creaks contentment from a well, 
And cool deeps gurgle as the bucket sinks. 
Now blowing at the trough the plow-team drinks ; 
The shaken harness rattles. Sleepy quails 
Call far. The warm milk hisses in the pails 
There in the dusky barn-lot. Crickets cry. 
The meadow twinkles with the glowing fly. 
One hears the horses munching at their oats. 
The green grows black. A veil of slumber floats 
Across the haunts of home-enamored men. 

Some freak of memory brought back again 

The boyhood world of sight and scent and sound : 

It perished, and the prairie ringed him round, 



48 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Blank as the face of fate. In listless mood 

Hugh set his face against the solitude 

And met the night. The new moon, low and 

far, 

A frail cup tilted, nor the high-swung star, 
It seemed, might glint on any stream or spring 
Or touch with silver any toothsome thing. 
The kiote voiced the universal lack. 
As from a nether fire, the plain gave back 
The swelter of the noon-glare to the gloom. 
In the hot hush Hugh heard his temples boom. 
Thirst tortured. Motion was a languid pain. 
Why seek some further nowhere on the plain ? 
Here might the kiotes feast as well as there. 
So spoke some loose-lipped spirit of despair; 
And still Hugh moved, volitionless a weight 
Submissive to that now unconscious hate, 
As darkling water to the hidden moon. 

Now when the night wore on in middle swoon, 
The crawler, roused from stupor, was aware 
Of some strange alteration in the air. 
To breathe became an act of conscious will. 
The starry waste was ominously still. 
The far-ofF kiote's yelp came sharp and clear 
As through a tunnel in the atmosphere 
A ponderable, resonating mass. 



THE CRAWL 49 

The limp leg dragging on the sun-dried grass 
Produced a sound unnaturally loud. 

Crouched, panting, Hugh looked up but saw no 

cloud. 

An oily film seemed spread upon the sky 
Now dully staring as the open eye 
Of one in fever. Gasping, choked with thirst, 
A childish rage assailed Hugh, and he cursed : 
'Twas like a broken spirit's outcry, tossed 
Upon hell's burlesque sabbath for the lost, 
And briefly space seemed crowded with the voice. 

To wait and die, to move and die what 

choice ? 
Hugh chose not, yet he crawled; though more 

and more 

He felt the futile strife was nearly o'er. 
And as he went, a muffled rumbling grew, 
More felt than heard ; for long it puzzled Hugh. 
Sometiow 'twas coextensive with his thirst, 
Yet boundless ; swollen blood-veins ere they burst 
Might give such warning, so he thought. And 

still 

The drone seemed heaping up a phonic hill 
That towered in a listening profound. 
Then suddenly a mountain peak of sound 



50 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Came toppling to a heaven-jolting fall ! 
The prairie shuddered, and a raucous drawl 
Ran far and perished in the outer deep. 

As one too roughly shaken out of sleep, 
Hugh stared bewildered. Still the face of night 
Remained the same, save where upon his right 
The moon had vanished 'neath the prairie rim. 
Then suddenly the meaning came to him. 
He turned and saw athwart the northwest sky, 
Like some black eyelid shutting on an eye, 
A coming night to which the night was day! 
Star-hungry, ranged in regular array, 
The lifting mass assailed the Dragon's lair, 
Submerged the region of the hounded Bear, 
Out-topped the tall Ox-Driver and the Pole. 
And all the while there came a low-toned roll, 
Less sound in air than tremor in the earth, 
From where, like flame upon a windy hearth, 
Deep in the further murk sheet-lightning flared. 
And still the southern arc of heaven stared, 
A half-shut eye, near blind with fever rheum ; 
And still the plain lay tranquil as a tomb 
Wherein the dead reck not a menaced world. 

What turmoil now ? Lo, ragged columns hurled 
Pell-mell up stellar slopes ! Swift blue fires leap 



THE CRAWL 51 

Above the wild assailants of the steep ! 

Along the solid rear a dull boom runs ! 

So light horse squadrons charge beneath the guns. 

Now once again the night is deathly still. 

What ghastly peace upon the zenith hill, 

No longer starry ? Not a sound is heard. 

So poised the hush, it seems a whispered word 

Might loose all noises in an avalanche. 

Only the black mass moves, and far glooms blanch 

With fitful flashes. The capricious flare 

Reveals the butte-top tall and lonely there 

Like some gray prophet contemplating doom. 

But hark ! What spirits whisper in the gloom ? 

What sibilation of conspiracies 

Ruffles the hush or murmuring of trees, 

Ghosts of the ancient forest or old rain, 

In some hallucination of the plain, 

A frustrate phantom mourning ? All around, 

That e'er evolving, ne'er resolving sound 

Gropes in the stifling hollow of the night. 

Then once twice thrice a blade of 

blinding light 

Ripped up the heavens, and the deluge came 
A burst of wind and water, noise and flame 
That hurled the watcher flat upon the ground. 



52 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

A moment past Hugh famished; now, half 

drowned, 
He gasped for breath amid the hurtling drench. 

So might a testy god, long sought to quench 
A puny thirst, pour wassail, hurling after 
The crashing bowl with wild sardonic laughter 
To see man wrestle with his answered prayer ! 

Prone to the roaring flaw and ceaseless flare, 
The man drank deeply with the drinking grass; 
Until it seemed the storm would never pass 
But ravin down the painted murk for aye. 
When had what dreamer seen a glaring day 
And leagues of prairie pantingly aquiver ? 
Flame, flood, wind, noise and darkness were a 

river 
Tearing a cosmic channel to no sea. 

The tortured night wore on ; then suddenly 
Peace fell. Remotely the retreating Wrath 
Trailed dull, reluctant thunders in its path, 
And up along a broken stair of cloud 
The Dawn came creeping whitely. Like a 

shroud 

Gray vapors clung along the sodden plain. 
Up rose the sun to wipe the final stain 



THE CRAWL 53 

Of fury from the sky and drink the mist. 
Against a flawless arch of amethyst 
The butte soared, like a soul serene and white 
Because of the katharsis of the night. 

All day Hugh fought with sleep and struggled on 
Southeastward ; for the heavy heat was gone 
Despite the naked sun. The blank Northwest 
Breathed coolly ; and the crawler thought it best 
To move while yet each little break and hollow 
And shallow basin of the bison-wallow 
Begrudged the earth and air its dwindling store. 
But now that thirst was conquered, more and 

more 

He felt the gnaw of hunger like a rage. 
And once, from dozing in a clump of sage, 
A lone jackrabbit bounded. As a flame 
Hope flared in Hugh, until the memory came 
Of him who robbed a sleeping friend and fled. 
Then hate and hunger merged ; the man saw red, 
And momently the hare and Little Jim 
Were one blurred mark for murder unto him 
Elusive, taunting, sweet to clutch and tear. 
The rabbit paused to scan the crippled bear 
That ground its teeth as though it chewed a 

root. 
But when, in witless rage, Hugh drew his boot 



54 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

And hurled it with a curse, the hare loped off, 
Its critic ears turned back, as though to scoff 
At silly brutes that threw their legs away. 

Night like a shadow on enduring day 

Swooped by. The dream of crawling and the 

act 

Were phases of one everlasting fact : 
Hugh woke, and he was doing what he dreamed. 
The butte, outstripped at eventide, now seemed 
Intent to follow. Ever now and then 
The crawler paused to calculate again 
What dear-bought yawn of distance dwarfed the 

hill. 

Close in the rear it soared, a Titan still, 
Whose hand-in-pocket saunter kept the pace. 

Distinct along the southern rim of space 
A low ridge lay, the crest of the divide. 
What rest and plenty on the other side ! 
Through what lush valleys ran what crystal 

brooks ! 

And there in virgin meadows wayside nooks 
With leaf and purple cluster dulled the light ! 

All day it seemed that distant Pisgah Height 
Retreated, and the tall butte dogged the rear. 



THE CRAWL 



55 



At eve a striped gopher chirping near 
Gave Hugh an inspiration. Now, at least, 
No thieving friend should rob him of a feast. 
His great idea stirred him as a shout. 
Off came a boot, a sock was ravelled out. 
The coarse yarn, fashioned to a running snare, 
He placed about the gopher's hole with care, 
And then withdrew to hold the yarn and wait. 
The nightbound moments, ponderous with fate, 
Crept slowly by. The battered gray face leered 
In expectation. Down the grizzled beard 
Ran slaver from anticipating jaws. 
Evolving twilight hovered to a pause. 
The light wind fell. Again and yet again 
The man devoured his fancied prey : and then 
Within the noose a timid snout was thrust. 
His hand unsteadied with the hunger lust, 
Hugh jerked the yarn. It broke. 

Down swooped the night, 

A shadow of despair. Bleak height on height, 
It seemed, a sheer abyss enclosed him round. 
Clutching a strand of yarn, he heard the sound 
Of some infernal turmoil under him. 
Grimly he strove to reach the ragged rim 
That snared a star, until the skyey space 
Was darkened with a roof of Jamie's face, 



56 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

And then the yarn was broken, and he fell. 
A-tumble like a stricken bat, his yell 
Woke hordes of laughers down the giddy yawn 
Of that black pit and suddenly 'twas dawn. 

Dream-dawn, dream-noon, dream-twilight ! Yet, 

possest 
By one stern dream more clamorous than the 

rest, 

Hugh headed for a gap that notched the hills, 
Wherethrough alluring murmur of cool rills, 
A haunting smell of verdure seemed to creep. 
By fits the wild adventure of his sleep 
Became the cause of all his waking care, 
And he complained unto the empty air 
How Jamie broke the yarn. 

The sun and breeze 

Had drunk all shallow basins to the lees, 
But now and then some gully, choked with mud, 
Retained a turbid relict of the flood. 
Dream-dawn, dream-noon, dream-night ! And 

still obsessed 

By that one dream more clamorous than the rest, 
Hugh struggled for the crest of the divide. 
And when at length he saw the other side, 
'Twas but a rumpled waste of yellow hills ! 



THE CRAWL 57 

The deep-sunk, wiser self had known the rills 
And nooks to be the facture of a whim ; 
Yet had the pleasant lie befriended him, 
And now the brutal fact had come to stare. 

Succumbing to a langorous despair, 

He mourned his fate with childish uncontrol 

And nursed that deadly adder of the soul, 

Self-pity. Let the crows swoop down and feed, 

Aye, batten on a thing that died of need, 

A poor old wretch betrayed of God and Man ! 

So peevishly his broken musing ran, 

Till, glutted with the luxury of woe, 

He turned to see the butte, that he might know 

How little all his striving could avail 

Against ill-luck. And lo, a finger-nail, 

At arm-length held, could blot it out of space ! 

A goading purpose and a creeping pace 

Had dwarfed the Titan in a haze of blue ! 

And suddenly new power came to Hugh 

With gazing on his masterpiece of will. 

So fare the wise on Pisgah. 

Down the hill, 

Unto the higher vision consecrate, 
Now sallied forth the new triumvirate 
A Weariness, a Hunger and a Glory 



58 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Against tyrannic Chance. As in a story 

Some higher Hugh observed the baser part. 

So sits the artist throned above his art, 

Nor recks the travail so the end be fair. 

It seemed the wrinkled hills pressed in to stare, 

The arch of heaven was an eye a-gaze. 

And as Hugh went, he fashioned many a phrase 

For use when, by some friendly ember-light, 

His tale of things endured should speed the night 

And all this gloom grow golden in the sharing. 

So wrought the old evangel of high daring, 

The duty and the beauty of endeavor, 

The privilege of going on forever, 

A victor in the moment. 

Ah, but when 

The night slipped by and morning came again, 
The sky and hill were only sky and hill 
And crawling but an agony of will. 
So once again the old triumvirate, 
A buzzard Hunger and a viper Hate 
Together with the baser part of Hugh, 
Went visionless. 

That day the wild geese flew. 
Vague in a gray profundity of sky ; 
And on into the night their muffled cry 
Haunted the moonlight like a 'far farewell. 
It made Hugh homesick, though he could not tell 



THE CRAWL 59 

For what he yearned; and in his fitful sleeping 
The cry became the sound of Jamie weeping, 
Immeasurably distant. 

Morning broke, 

Blear, chilly, through a fog that drove as smoke 
Before the booming Northwest. Sweet and sad 
Came creeping back old visions of the lad 
Some trick of speech, some merry little lilt, 
The brooding blue of eyes too clear for guilt, 
The wind-blown golden hair. Hate slept that 

day, 

And half of Hugh was half a life away, 
A wandering spirit wistful of the past ; 
And half went drifting with the autumn blast 
That mourned among the melancholy hills ; 
For something of the lethargy that kills 
Came creeping close upon the ebb of hate. 
Only the raw wind, like the lash of Fate, 
Could have availed to move him any more. 
At last the buzzard beak no longer tore 
His vitals, and he ceased to think of food. 
The fighter slumbered, and a maudlin mood 
Foretold the dissolution of the man. 
He sobbed, and down his beard the big tears ran. 
And now the scene is changed ; the bleak wind's 

cry 
Becomes a flight of bullets snarling by 



60 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

From where on yonder summit skulk the Rees. 
Against the sky, in silhouette, he sees 
The headstrong Jamie in the leaden rain. 
And now serenely beautiful and slain 
The dear lad lies within a gusty tent. 

Thus vexed with doleful whims the crawler went 

Adrift before the wind, nor saw the trail ; 

Till close on night he knew a rugged vale 

Had closed about him ; and a hush was there, 

Though still a moaning in the upper air 

Told how the gray-winged gale blew out the day. 

Beneath a clump of brush he swooned away 

Into an icy void ; and waking numb, 

It seemed the still white dawn of death had come 

On this, some cradle-valley of the soul. 

He saw a dim, enchanted hollow roll 

Beneath him, and the brush thereof was fleece; 

And, like the body of the perfect peace 

That thralled the whole, abode the break of day. 

It seemed no wind had ever come that way, 

Nor sound dwelt there, nor echo found the place. 

And Hugh lay lapped in wonderment a space, 

Vexed with a snarl whereof the ends were lost, 

Till, shivering, he wondered if a frost 

Had fallen with the dying of the blast. 

So, vaguely troubled, listlessly he cast 



THE CRAWL 61 

A gaze about him : lo, above his head 

The gray-green curtain of his chilly bed 

Was broidered thick with plums ! Or so it seemed, 

For he was half persuaded that he dreamed ; 

And with a steady stare he strove to keep 

That treasure for the other side of sleep. 

Returning hunger bade him rise; in vain 

He struggled with a fine-spun mesh of pain 

That trammelled him, until a yellow stream 

Of day flowed down the white vale of a dream 

And left it disenchanted in the glare. 

Then, warmed and soothed, Hugh rose and 

feasted there, 
And thought once more of reaching the Moreau. 

To southward with a painful pace and slow 
He went stiff-jointed ; and a gnawing ache 
In that hip-wound he had for Jamie's sake 
Oft made him groan nor wrought a tender 

mood : 

The rankling weapon of ingratitude 
Was turned again with every puckering twinge. 

Far down the vale a narrow winding fringe 
Of wilted green betokened how a spring 
There sent a little rill meandering ; 



62 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

And Hugh was greatly heartened, for he knew 
What fruits and herbs might flourish in the 

slough, 
And thirst, henceforth, should torture not again. 

So day on day, despite the crawler's pain, 
All in the windless, golden autumn weather, 
These two, as comrades, struggled south to 
gether 

The homeless graybeard and the homing rill : 
And one was sullen with the lust to kill, 
And one went crooning of the moon-wooed 

vast; 

For each the many-fathomed peace at last, 
But oh the boon of singing on the way ! 
So came these in the golden fall of day 
Unto a sudden turn in the ravine, 
Wherefrom Hugh saw a flat of cluttered green 
Beneath the further bluffs of the Moreau. 

With sinking heart he paused and gazed below 
Upon the goal of so much toil and pain. 
Yon green had seemed a paradise to gain 
The while he thirsted where the lonely butte 
Looked far and saw no toothsome herb or fruit 
In all that yellow barren dim with heat. 
But now the wasting body cried for meat, 



THE CRAWL 63 

And sickness was upon him. Game should pass, 
Nor deign to fear the mighty hunter Glass, 
But curiously sniffing, pause to stare. 

Now while thus musing, Hugh became aware 
Of some low murmur, phasic and profound, 
Scarce risen o'er the border line of sound. 
It might have been the coursing of his blood, 
Or thunder heard remotely, or a flood 
Flung down a wooded valley far away. 
Yet that had been no weather-breeding day; 
'Twould frost that night; amid the thirsty land 
All streams ran thin ; and when he pressed a 

hand 
On either ear, the world seemed very still. 

The deep-worn channel of the little rill 
Here fell away to eastward, rising, rough 
With old rain-furrows, to a lofty bluff 
That faced the river with a yellow wall. 
Thereto, perplexed, Hugh set about to crawl, 
Nor reached the summit till the sun was low. 
Far-spread, shade-dimpled in the level glow, 
The still land told not whence the murmur grew; 
But where the green strip melted into blue 
Far down the winding valley of the stream, 
Hugh saw what seemed the tempest of a dream 



64 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

At mimic havoc in the timber-glooms. 

As from the sweeping of gigantic brooms, 

A dust cloud deepened down the dwindling river ; 

Upon the distant tree-tops ran a shiver 

And huddled thickets writhed as in a gale. 

On creeps the windless tempest up the vale, 
The while the murmur deepens to a roar, 
As with the wider yawning of a door. 
And now the agitated green gloom gapes 
To belch a flood of countless dusky shapes 
That mill and wrangle in a turbid flow 
Migrating myriads of the buffalo 
Bound for the winter pastures of the Platte ! 

Exhausted, faint with need of meat, Hugh sat 
And watched the mounting of the living flood. 
Down came the night, and like a blot of blood 
The lopped moon weltered in the dust-bleared 

East. 

Sleep came and gave a Barmecidal feast. 
About a merry flame were simmering 
Sweet haunches of the calving of the Spring, 
And tender tongues that never tasted snow, 
And marrow bones that yielded to a blow 
Such treasure ! Hugh awoke with gnashing teeth, 
And heard the mooing drone of cows beneath, 



THE CRAWL 65 

The roll of hoofs, the challenge of the bull. 
So sounds a freshet when the banks are full 
And bursting brush-jams bellow to the croon 
Of water through green leaves. The ragged 

moon 

Now drenched the valley in an eerie rain : 
Below, the semblance of a hurricane; 
Above, the perfect calm of brooding frost, 
Through which the wolves in doleful tenson 

tossed 

From hill to hill the ancient hunger-song. 
In broken sleep Hugh rolled the chill night long, 
Half conscious of the flowing flesh below. 
And now he trailed a bison in the snow 
That deepened till he could not lift his feet. 
Again, he battled for a chunk of meat 
With some gray beast that fought with icy 

fang. 

And when he woke, the wolves no longer sang ; 
White dawn athwart a white world smote the 

hill, 
And thunder rolled along the valley still. 

Morn, wiping up the frost as with a sponge, 
Day on the steep and down the nightward plunge, 
And Twilight saw the myriads moving on. 
Dust to the westward where the van had gone, 



66 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

And dust and muffled thunder in the east ! 
Hugh starved while gazing on a Titan feast. 
The tons of beef, that eddied there and swirled, 
Had stilled the crying hungers of the world, 
Yet not one little morsel was for him. 

The red sun, pausing on the dusty rim, 
Induced a panic aspect of his plight : 
The herd would pass and vanish in the night 
And be another dream to cling and flout. 
Now scanning all the summit round about, 
Amid the rubble of the ancient drift 
He saw a bowlder. 'Twas too big to lift, 
Yet he might roll it. Painfully and slow 
He worked it to the edge, then let it go 
And breathlessly expectant watched it fall. 
It hurtled down the leaning yellow wall, 
And bounding from a brushy ledge's brow, 
It barely grazed the buttocks of a cow 
And made a moment's eddy where it struck. 

In peevish wrath Hugh cursed his evil luck, 

And seizing rubble, gave his fury vent 

By pelting bison till his strength was spent : 

So might a child assail the crowding sea ! 

Then, sick at heart and musing bitterly, 

He shambled down the steep way to the creek, 

And having stayed the tearing buzzard beak 



THE CRAWL 67 

With breadroot and the waters of the rill, 
Slept till the white of morning o'er the hill 
Was like a whisper groping in a hush. 
The stream's low trill seemed loud. The tumbled 

brush 

And rumpled tree-tops in the flat below, 
Upon a fog that clung like spectral snow, 
Lay motionless ; nor any sound was there. 
No frost had fallen, but the crystal air 
Smacked of the autumn, and a heavy dew 
Lay hoar upon the grass. There came on Hugh 
A picture, vivid in the moment's thrill, 
Of martialed corn-shocks marching up a' hill 
And spiked fields dotted with the pumpkin's 

gold. 

It vanished ; and, a-shiver with the cold, 
He brooded on the mockeries of Chance, 
The shrewd malignity of Circumstance 
That either gave too little or too much. 

Yet, with the fragment of a hope for crutch, 
His spirit rallied, and he rose to go, 
Though each stiff joint resisted as a foe 
And that old hip-wound battled with his will. 
So down along the channel of the rill 
Unto the vale below he fought his way. 
The frore fog, rifting in the risen day, 



68 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Revealed the havoc of the living flood 
The river shallows beaten into mud, 
The slender saplings shattered in the crush, 
All lower leafage stripped, the tousled brush 
Despoiled of fruitage, winter-thin, aghast. 
And where the avalanche of hoofs had passed 
It seemed nor herb nor grass had ever been. 
And this the hard-won paradise, wherein 
A food-devouring plethora of food 
Had come to make a starving solitude! 

Yet hope and courage mounted with the sun. 
Surely, rfugh thought, some ill-begotten one 
Of all that striving mass had lost the strife 
And perished in the headlong stream of life 
A feast to fill the bellies of the strong, 
That still the weak might perish. All day long 
He struggled down the stricken vale, nor saw 
What thing he sought. But when the twilight 

awe 

Was creeping in, beyond a bend arose 
A din as though the kiotes and the crows 
Fought there with shrill and raucous battle cries. 

Small need had Hugh to ponder and surmise 
What guerdon beak and fang contended for. 
Within himself the oldest cause of war 



THE CRAWL 69 

Brought forth upon the instant fang and beak. 
He too would fight ! Nor had he far to seek 
Amid the driftwood strewn about the sand 
For weapons suited to a brawny hand 
With such a purpose. Armed with club and 

stone 

He forged ahead into the battle zone, 
And from a screening thicket spied his foes. 

He saw a bison carcass black with crows, 
And over it a welter of black wings, 
And round about, a press of tawny rings 
That, like a muddy current churned to foam 
Upon a snag, flashed whitely in the gloam 
With naked teeth; while close about the prize 
Red beaks and muzzles bloody to the eyes 
Betrayed how worth a struggle was the feast. 

Then came on Hugh the fury of the beast 
To eat or to be eaten ! Better so 
To die contending with a living foe, 
Than fight the yielding distance and the lack. 
Masked by the brush he opened the attack, 
And ever where a stone or club fell true, 
About the stricken one an uproar grew 
And brute tore brute, forgetful of the prey, 
Until the whole pack tumbled in the fray 



70 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

With bleeding flanks and lacerated throats. 
Then, as the leader of a host who notes 
The cannon-wrought confusion of the foe, 
Hugh seized the moment for a daring blow. 

The wolfs a coward, who, in goodly packs, 
May counterfeit the courage that he lacks 
And with a craven's fury crush the bold. 
But when the disunited mass that rolled 
In suicidal strife, became aware 
How some great beast that shambled like a bear 
Bore down with roaring challenge, fell a hush 
Upon the pack, some slinking to the brush 
With tails a-droop ; while some that whined in pain 
Writhed off on reddened trails. With bristled 

mane 

Before the flying stones a bolder few 
Snarled menace at the foe as they withdrew 
To fill the outer dusk with clamorings. 
Aloft upon a moaning wind of wings 
The crows with harsh, vituperative cries 
Now saw a gray wolf of prodigious size 
Devouring with the frenzy of the starved. 
Thus fell to Hugh a bison killed and carved ; 
And so Fate's whims mysteriously trend 
Woe in the silken meshes of the friend, 
Weal in the might and menace of the foe. 



THE CRAWL 71 

But with the fading of the afterglow 
The routed wolves found courage to return : 
Amid the brush Hugh saw their eye-balls burn ; 
And well he knew how futile stick and stone 
Should prove by night to keep them from their 

own. 

Better is less with safety, than enough 
With ruin. He retreated to a bluff, 
And scarce had reached it when the pack swooped 

in 
Upon the carcass. 

All night long, the din 

Of wrangling wolves assailed the starry air, 
While high above them in a brushy lair 
Hugh dreamed of gnawing at the bloody feast. 

Along about the blanching of the east, 

When sleep is weirdest and a moment's flight, 

Remembered coextensive with the night, 

May teem with hapful years ; as light in smoke, 

Upon the jumble of Hugh's dreaming broke 

A buzz of human voices. Once again 

He rode the westward trail with Henry's men 

Hoof-smitten leagues consuming in a dust. 

And now the nightmare of that broken trust 

Was on him, and he lay beside the spring, 

A corpse, yet heard the muffled parleying . 



72 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Above him of the looters of the dead : 

But when he might have riddled what they said, 

The babble flattened to a blur of gray 

And lo, upon a bleak frontier of day, 

The spent moon staring down ! A little space 

Hugh scrutinized the featureless white face, 

As though 'twould speak. But when again the 

sound 

Grew up, and seemed to come from under ground, 
He cast the drowse, and peering down the slope, 
Beheld what set at grapple fear and hope 
Three Indian horsemen riding at a jog ! 
Their ponies, wading belly-deep in fog, 
That clung along the valley, seemed to swim, 
And through a thinner vapor moving dim, 
The men were ghost-like. 

Could they be the Sioux ? 
Almost the wish became belief in Hugh. 
Or were they Rees ? As readily the doubt 
Withheld him from the hazard of a shout. 
And while he followed them with baffled gaze, 
Grown large and vague, dissolving in the haze, 
They vanished westward. 

Knowing well the wont 
Of Indians moving on the bison-hunt, 
Forthwith Hugh guessed the early riders were 
The outflung feelers of a tribe a-stir 



THE CRAWL 73 

Like some huge cat gone mousing. So he lay 

Concealed, impatient with the sleepy day 

That dawdled in the dawning. Would it bring 

Good luck or ill ? , His eager questioning, 

As crawling fog, took on a golden hue 

From sunrise. He was waiting for the Sioux, 

Their parfleche panniers fat with sun-dried 

maize 

And wasna ! From the mint of evil days 
He would coin tales and be no begging guest 
About the tribal feast-fires burning west, 
But kinsman of the blood of daring men. 
And when the crawler stood erect again 
O Friend-Betrayer at the Big Horn's mouth, 
Beware of someone riding from the South 
To do the deed that he had lived to do ! 

Now when the sun stood hour-high in the blue, 
From where a cloud of startled blackbirds rose 
Down stream, a panic tumult broke the doze 
Of windless morning. What unwelcome news 
Embroiled the parliament of feathered shrews ? 
A boiling cloud against the sun they lower, 
Flackering strepent ; now a sooty shower, 
Big-flaked, squall-driven westward, down they 

flutter 
To set a clump of cottonwoods a-sputter 



74 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

With cold black fire ! And once again, some 

shock 

Of sight or sound flings panic in the flock 
Gray boughs exploding in a ruck of birds ! 

What augury in orniscopic words 

Did yon swart sibyls on the morning scrawl ? 

Now broke abruptly through the clacking 

brawl 

A camp-dog's barking and a pony's neigh ; 
Whereat a running nicker fled away, 
Attenuating to a rearward hush ; 
And lo ! in hailing distance 'round the brush 
That fringed a jutting blufFs base like a beard 
Upon a stubborn chin out-thrust, appeared 
A band of mounted warriors ! In their van 
Aloof and lonely rode a gnarled old man 
Upon a piebald stallion. Stooped was he 
Beneath his heavy years, yet haughtily 
He wore them like the purple of a king. 
Keen for a goal, as from the driving string 
A barbed and feathered arrow truly sped, 
His face was like a flinty arrow-head, 
And brooded westward in a steady stare. 
There was a sift of winter in his hair, 
The bleakness of brown winter in his look. 



THE CRAWL 75 

Hugh saw, and huddled closer in his nook. 

Fled the bright dreams of safety, feast and rest 

Before that keen, cold brooder on the West, 

As gaudy leaves before the blizzard flee. 

Twas Elk Tongue, fighting chieftain of the Ree, 

With all his people at his pony's tail 

Full two-score lodges emptied on the trail 

Of hunger ! 

On they came in ravelled rank, 
And many a haggard eye and hollow flank 
Made plain how close and pitilessly pressed 
The enemy that drove them to the West 
Such foeman as no warrior ever slew. 
A tale of cornfields plundered by the Sioux 
Their sagging panniers told. Yet rich enough 
They seemed to him who watched them from the 

bluff; 

Yea, pampered nigh the limit of desire ! 
No friend had filched from them the boon of 

fire 

And hurled them shivering back upon the beast. 
Erect they went, full-armed to strive, at least; 
And nightly in a cozy ember-glow 
Hope fed them with a dream of buffalo 
Soon to be overtaken. After that, 
Home with their Pawnee cousins on the Platte, 
Much meat and merry-making till the Spring. 



76 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

On dragged the rabble like a fraying string 
Too tautly drawn. The rich-in-ponies rode, 
For much is light and little is a load 
Among all heathen with no Christ to save! 
Gray seekers for the yet begrudging grave, 
Bent with the hoeing of forgotten maize, 
Wood-hewers, water-bearers all their days, 
Toiled 'neath the life-long hoarding of their packs. 
And nursing squaws, their babies at their backs 
Whining because the milk they got was thinned 
In dugs of famine, strove as with a wind. 
Invincibly equipped with their first bows 
The striplings strutted, knowing, as youth knows, 
How fair life is beyond the beckoning blue. 
Cold-eyed the grandsires plodded, for they knew, 
As frosted heads may know, how all trails merge 
In what lone land. Raw maidens on the verge 
Of some half-guessed-at mystery of life, 
In wistful emulation of the wife 
Stooped to the fancied burden of the race; 
Nor read upon the withered granddam's face 
The scrawled tale of that burden and its woe. 
Slant to the sagging poles of the travaux, 
Numb to the squaw's harsh railing and the goad, 
The lean cayuses toiled. And children rode 
A-top the household plunder, wonder-eyed 
To see a world flow by on either side, 



THE CRAWL 77 

From blue air sprung to vanish in blue air, 
A river of enchantments. 

Here and there 

The camp-curs loped upon a vexing quest 
Where countless hoofs had left a palimpsest, 
A taunting snarl of broken scents. And now 
They sniff the clean bones of the bison cow, 
Howl to the skies; and now with manes a-rough 
They nose the man-smell leading to the bluff; 
Pause puzzled at the base and sweep the height 
With questioning yelps. Aloft, crouched low in 

fright, 

Already Hugh can hear the braves' guffaws 
At their scorned foeman yielded to the squaws' 
Inverted mercy and a slow-won grave. 
Since Earth's first mother scolded from a cave 
And that dear riddle of her love began, 
No man has wrought a weapon against man 
To match the deadly venom brewed above 
The lean, blue, blinding heart-fires of her love. 
Well might the hunted hunter shrink aghast ! 
But thrice three seasons yet should swell the past, 
So was it writ, ere Fate's keen harriers 
Should run Hugh Glass to earth. 

The hungry curs 

Took up again the tangled scent of food. 
Still flowed the rabble through the solitude 



78 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

A thinning stream now of the halt, the weak 

And all who had not very far to seek 

For that weird pass whereto the fleet are slow, 

And out of it keen winds and numbing blow, 

Shrill with the fleeing voices of the dead. 

Slowly the scattered stragglers, making head 

Against their weariness as up a steep, 

Fled westward ; and the morning lay asleep 

Upon the valley fallen wondrous still. 

Hugh kept his nook, nor ventured forth, until 
The high day toppled to the blue descent, 
When thirst became a master, and he went 
With painful scrambling down the broken scarp, 
Lured by the stream, that like a smitten harp 
Rippled a muted music to the sun. 

Scarce had he crossed the open flat, and won 
The half-way fringe of willows, when he saw, 
Slow plodding up the trail, a tottering squaw 
Whose years made big the little pack she bore. 
Crouched in the brush Hugh watched her. More 

and more 

The little burden tempted him. Why not ? 
A thin cry throttled in that lonely spot 
Could bring no succor. None should ever know, 
Save him, the feasted kiote and the crow, 



THE CRAWL 79 

Why one poor crone found not the midnight fire. 
Nor would the vanguard, quick with young de 
sire, 

Devouring distance westward like a flame, 
Regret this ash dropped rearward. 

On she came, 

Slow-footed, staring blankly on the sand 
So close now that it needed but a hand 
Out-thrust to overthrow her;' aye, to win 
That priceless spoil, a little tent of skin, 
A flint and steel, a kettle and a knife ! 
What did the dying with the means of life, 
That thus the fit-to-live should suffer lack ? 

Poised for the lunge, what whimsy held him 

back? 

Why did he gaze upon the passing prize, 
Nor seize it ? Did some gust of ghostly cries 
Awaken round her whisperings of Eld, 
Wraith-voices of the babies she had held 
To plead for pity on her graveward days ? 
Far down a moment's cleavage in the haze 
Of backward years Hugh saw her now nor saw 
The little burden and the feeble squaw, 
But someone sitting haloed like a saint 
Beside a hearth long cold. The dream grew 

faint ; 



8o SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

And when he looked again, the crone was gone 
Beyond a clump of willow. 

Crawling on, 

He reached the river. Leaning to a pool 
Calm in its cup of sand, he saw a fool ! 
A wild, wry mask of mirth, a-grin, yet grim, 
Rose there to claim identity with him 
And ridicule his folly. Pity ? Faugh ! 
Who pitied this, that it should spare a squaw 
Spent in the spawning of a scorpion brood ? 

He drank and hastened down the solitude, 
Fleeing that thing which fleered him, and was 

Hugh. 

And as he went his self-accusing grew 
And with it, anger; till it came to seem 
That somehow some sly Jamie of a dream 
Had plundered him again ; and he was strong 
With lust of vengeance and the sting of wrong, 
So that he travelled faster than for days. 

Now when the eve in many-shaded grays 

Wove the day's shroud, and through the lower 

lands 

Lean fog-arms groped with chilling spirit hands, 
Hugh paused perplexed. Elusive, haunting, dim, 
As though some memory that stirred in him, 



THE CRAWL 81 

Invasive of the real, outgrew the dream, 

There came upon the breeze that stole up stream 

A whiff of woodsmoke. 

'Twixt a beat and beat 

Of Hugh's deluded heart, it seemed the sweet 
Allure of home. A brief way, and one came 
Upon the clearing where the sumach flame 
Ran round the forest-fringe; and just beyond 
One saw the slough grass nodding in the pond 
Unto the sleepy troll the bullfrogs sung. 
And then one saw the place where one was 

young 

The log-house sitting on a stumpy rise. 
Hearth-lit within, its windows were as eyes 
That love much and are faded with old tears. 
It seemed regretful of a life's arrears, 
Yet patient, with a self-denying poise, 
Like some old mother for her bearded boys 
Waiting sweet-hearted and a little sad. 
So briefly dreamed a recrudescent lad 
Beneath gray hairs, and fled. 

Through chill and damp 
Still groped the odor, hinting at a camp, 
A two-tongued herald wooing hope and fear. 
Was hospitality or danger near ? 
A Sioux war-party hot upon the trail, 
Or laggard Rees ? Hugh crawled across the vale, 



82 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Toiled up along a zigzag gully's bed 
And reached a bluff's top. In a smudge of red 
The West burned low. Hill summits, yet alight, 
And pools of gloom anticipating night 
Mottled the landscape to the dull blue rim. 
What freak of fancy had imposed on him ? 
Could one smell home-smoke fifty years away ? 
He saw no fire; no pluming spire of gray 
Rose in the dimming air to woo or warn. 

He lay upon the bare height, fagged, forlorn, 
And old times came upon him with the creep 
Of subtle drugs that put the will to sleep 
And wreak doom to the soothing of a dream. 
So listlessly he scanned the sombrous stream, 
Scarce seeing what he scanned. The dark in 
creased ; 

A chill wind wakened from the frowning east 
And soughed along the vale. 

Then with a start 

He saw what broke the torpor of his heart 
And set the wild blood free. From where he lay 
An easy point-blank rifle-shot away, 
Appeared a mystic germinating spark 
That in some secret garden of the dark 
Upreared a frail, blue, nodding stem, whereon 
A ruddy lily flourished and was gone ! 



THE CRAWL 83 

What miracle was this ? Again it grew, 
The scarlet blossom on the stem of blue, 
And withered back again into the night. 

With pounding heart Hugh crawled along the 

height 

And reached a point of vantage whence, below, 
He saw capricious witch-lights dim and glow 
Like far-spent embers quickened in a breeze. 
J Twas surely not a camp of laggard Rees, 
Nor yet of Siouan warriors hot in chase. 
Dusk and a quiet bivouacked in that place. 
A doddering vagrant with numb hands, the Wind 
Fumbled the dying ashes there, and whined. 
It was the day-old camp-ground of the foe ! 

Glad-hearted now, Hugh gained the vale below, 
Keen to possess once more the ancient gift. 
Nearing the glow, he saw vague shadows lift 
Out of the painted gloom of smouldering logs 
Distorted bulks that bristled, and were dogs 
Snarling at this invasion of their lair. 
Hugh charged upon them, growling like a bear, 

And sent them whining. 

Now again to view 

The burgeoning of scarlet, gold and blue, 

The immemorial miracle of fire ! 

From heaped-up twigs a tenuous smoky spire 



84 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Arose, and made an altar of the place. 

The spark-glow, faint upon the grizzled face, 

Transformed the kneeling outcast to a priest; 

And, native of the light-begetting East, 

The Wind became a chanting acolyte. 

These two, entempled in the vaulted night, 

Breathed conjuries of interwoven breath. 

Then, hark ! the snapping of the chains of 

Death ! 
From dead wood, lo ! the epiphanic god ! 

Once more the freightage of the fennel rod 
Dissolved the chilling pall of Jovian scorn. 
The wonder of the resurrection morn, 
The face apocalyptic and the sword, 
The glory of the many-symboled Lord, 
Hugh, lifting up his eyes about him, saw ! 
And something in him like a vernal thaw, 
Voiced with the sound of many waters, ran 
And quickened to the laughter of a man. 

Light-heartedly he fed the singing flame 
And took its blessing : till a soft sleep came 
With dreaming that was like a pleasant tale. 

The far white dawn was peering up the vale 
When he awoke to indolent content. 
A few shorn stars in pale astonishment 



THE CRAWL 85 

Were huddled westward ; and the fire was low. 

Three scrawny camp-curs, mustered in a row 

Beyond the heap of embers, heads askew, 

Ears pricked to question what the man might do, 

Sat wistfully regardant. He arose; 

And they, grown canny in a school of blows, 

Skulked to a safer distance, there to raise 

A dolorous chanting of the evil days, 

Their gray breath like the body of a prayer. 

Hugh nursed the sullen embers to a flare, 

Then set about to view an empty camp 

As once before ; but now no smoky lamp 

Of blear suspicion searched a gloom of fraud 

Wherein a smirking Friendship, like a bawd, 

Embraced a coward Safety ; now no grief, 

'Twixt hideous revelation and belief, 

Made womanish the man ; but glad to strive, 

With hope to nerve him and a will to drive, 

He knew that he could finish in the race. 

The staring impassivity of space 

No longer mocked ; the dreadful skyward climb, 

Where distance seemed identical with time, 

Was past now; and that mystic something, luck, 

Without which worth may flounder in the ruck, 

Had turned to him again. 

So flamelike soared 
Rekindled hope in him as he explored 



86 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Among the ash-heaps; and the lean dogs ran 
And barked about him, for the love of man 
Wistful, yet fearing. Surely he could find 
Some trifle in the hurry left behind 
Or haply hidden in the trampled sand 
That to the cunning of a needy hand 
Should prove the master-key of circumstance : 
For 'tis the little gifts of grudging Chance, 
Well husbanded, make victors. 

Long he sought 

Without avail ; and, crawling back, he thought 
Of how the dogs were growing less afraid, 
And how one might be skinned without a blade. 
A flake of flint might do it : he would try. 
And then he saw or did the servile eye 
Trick out a mental image like the real ? 
He saw a glimmering of whetted steel 
Beside a heap now washed with morning light ! 

Scarce more of marvel and the sense of might 
Moved Arthur when he reached a hand to take 
The fay-wrought brand emerging from the lake, 
Whereby a kingdom should be lopped of strife, 
Than Hugh now, pouncing on a trader's knife 
Worn hollow in the use of bounteous days ! 

And now behold a rich man by the blaze 
Of his own hearth a lord of steel and fire ! 



THE CRAWL 87 

Not having, but the measure of desire 
Determines wealth. Who gaining more, seek 

most, 

Are ever the pursuers of a ghost 
And lend their fleetness to the fugitive. 
For Hugh, long goaded by the wish to live, 
What gage of mastery in fire and tool ! 
That twain wherewith Time put the brute to 

school, 
Evolving Man, the maker and the seer. 

'Twixt urging hunger and restraining fear 

The gaunt dogs hovered round the man; while 

he 

Cajoled them in the language of the Ree 
And simulated feeding them with sand, 
Until the boldest dared to sniff his hand, 
Bare-fanged and with conciliative whine. 
Through bristled mane the quick blade bit the 

spine 

Below the skull ; and as a flame-struck thing 
The body humped and shuddered, withering; 
The lank limbs huddled, wilted. 

Now to skin 

The carcass, dig a hole, arrange therein 
And fix the pelt with stakes, the flesh-side up. 
This done, he shaped the bladder to a cup 



88 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

On willow withes, and filled the rawhide pot 
With water from the river made it hot 
With roasted stones, and set the meat a-boil. 
Those days of famine and prodigious toil 
Had wrought bulimic cravings in the man, 
And scarce the cooking of the flesh outran 
The eating of it. As a fed flame towers 
According to the fuel it devours, 
His hunger with indulgence grew, nor ceased 
Until the kettle, empty of the feast, 
Went dim, the sky and valley, merging, swirled 
In subtle smoke that smothered out the world. 
Hugh slept. 

And then as divers, mounting, sunder 
A murmuring murk to blink in sudden wonder 
Upon a dazzling upper deep of blue 
He rose again to consciousness, and knew 
The low sun beating slantly on his face. 

Now indolently gazing round the place, 

He noted how the curs had revelled there 

The bones and entrails gone; some scattered 

hair 

Alone remaining of the pot of hide. 
How strange he had not heard them at his side ! 
And granting but one afternoon had passed, 
What could have made the fire burn out so fast ? 



THE CRAWL 89 

Had daylight waned, night fallen, morning crept, 
Noon blazed, a new day dwindled while he 

slept ? 

And was the friendlike fire a Jamie too ? 
Across the twilit consciousness of Hugh 
The old obsession like a wounded bird 
Fluttered. 

He got upon his knees and stirred 
The feathery ash ; but not a spark was there. 
Already with the failing sun the air 
Went keen, betokening a frosty night. 
Hugh winced with something like the clutch of 

fright. 

How could he bear the torture, how sustain 
The sting of that antiquity of pain 
Rolled back upon him face again the foe, 
That yielding victor, fleet in being slow, 
That huge, impersonal malevolence ? 

So readily the tentacles of sense 
Root in the larger standard of desire, 
That Hugh fell farther in the loss of fire 
Than in the finding of it he arose. 
And suddenly the place grew strange, as grows 
A friend's house, when the friend is on his bier, 
And all that was familiar there and dear 
Puts on a blank, inhospitable look. 



90 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Hugh set his face against the east, and took 

That dreariest of ways, the trail of flight. 

He would outcrawl the shadow of the night 

And have the day to blanket him in sleep. 

But as he went to meet the gloom a-creep, 

Bemused with life's irrational rebuffs, 

A yelping of the dogs among the bluffs 

Rose, hunger-whetted, stabbing ; rent the pall 

Of evening silence ; blunted to a drawl 

Amid the arid waterways, and died. 

And as the echo to the sound replied, 

So in the troubled mind of Hugh was wrought 

A reminiscent cry of thought to thought 

That, groping, found an unlocked door to life : 

The dogs keen flint to skin one then the knife 

Discovered. Why, that made a flint and steel! 

No further with the subtle foe at heel 

He fled ; for all about him in the rock, 

To waken when the needy hand might knock, 

A savior slept ! He found a flake of flint, 

Scraped from his shirt a little wad of lint, 

Spilled on it from the smitten stone a shower 

Of ruddy seed ; and saw the mystic flower 

That genders its own summer, bloom anew ! 

And so capricious luck came back to Hugh; 
And he was happier than he had been 



THE CRAWL 91 

Since Jamie to that unforgiven sin 

Had yielded, ages back upon the Grand. 

Now he would turn the cunning of his hand 

To carving crutches, that he might arise, 

Be manlike, lift more rapidly the skies 

That crouched between his purpose and the mark. 

The warm glow housed him from the frosty dark, 

And there he wrought in very joyous mood 

And sang by fits whereat the solitude 

Set laggard singers snatching at the tune. 

The gaunter for their hunt, the dogs came soon 

To haunt the shaken fringes of the glow, 

And, pitching voices to the timeless woe, 

Outwailed the lilting. So the Chorus sings 

Of terror, pity and the tears of things 

When most the doomed protagonist is gay. 

The stars swarmed over, and the front of day 

Whitened above a white world, and the sun 

Rose on a sleeper with a task well done, 

Nor roused him till its burning topped the blue. 

When Hugh awoke, there woke a younger Hugh, 

Now half a stranger ; and 'twas good to feel 

With ebbing sleep the old green vigor steal, 

Thrilling, along his muscles and his veins, 

As in a lull of winter-cleansing rains 

The gray bough quickens to the sap a-creep. 



92 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

It chanced the dogs lay near him, sound asleep, 
Curled nose to buttock in the noonday glow. 
He killed the larger with a well-aimed blow, 
Skinned, dressed and set it roasting on a spit ; 
And when 'twas cooked, ate sparingly of it, 
For need might yet make little seem a feast. 

Fording the river shallows, south by east 

He hobbled now along a withered rill 

That issued where old floods had gashed the hill 

A cyclopean portal yawning sheer. 

No storm of countless hoofs had entered here : 

It seemed a place where nothing ever comes 

But change of season. He could hear the plums 

Plash in the frosted thicket, over-lush ; 

While, like a spirit lisping in the hush, 

The crisp leaves whispered round him as they fell. 

And ever now and then the autumn spell 

Was broken by an ululating cry 

From where far back with muzzle to the sky 

The lone dog followed, mourning. Darkness 

came; 

And huddled up beside a cozy flame, 
Hugh's sleep was but a momentary flight 
Across a little shadow into light. 

So day on day he toiled : and when, afloat 
Above the sunset like a stygian boat, 



THE CRAWL 93 

The new moon bore the spectre of the old, 

He saw a dwindling strip of blue outrolled 

The valley of the tortuous Cheyenne. 

And ere the half moon sailed the night again, 

Those far lone leagues had sloughed their garb of 

blue, 

And dwindled, dwindled, dwindled after Hugh, 
Until he saw that Titan of the plains, 
The sinewy Missouri. Dearth of rains 
Had made the Giant gaunt as he who saw. 
This loud Chain-Smasher of a late March thaw 
Seemed never to have bellowed at his banks ; 
And yet, with staring ribs and hollow flanks, 
The urge of an indomitable will 
Proclaimed him of the breed of giants still ; 
And where the current ran a boiling track, 
'Twas like the muscles of a mighty back 
Grown Atlantean in the wrestler's craft. 

Hugh set to work and built a little raft 

Of driftwood bound with grapevines. So it fell 

That one with an amazing tale to tell 

Came drifting to the gates of Kiowa. 



IV 
THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 

NOT long Hugh let the lust of vengeance gnaw 
Upon him idling; though the tale he told 
And what report proclaimed him, were as gold 
To buy a winter's comfort at the Post. 
"I can not rest; for I am but the ghost 
Of someone murdered by a friend," he said, 
"So long as yonder traitor thinks me dead, 
Aye, buried in the bellies of the crows 
Andkiotes!" 

Whereupon said one of those 
Who heard him, noting how the old man shook 
As with a chill : "God fend that one should look 
With such a blizzard of a face for me !" 
For he went grayer like a poplar tree 
That shivers, ruffling to the first faint breath 
Of storm, while yet the world is still as death 
Save where, far off, the kenneled thunders bay. 

So brooding, he grew stronger day by day, 
Until at last he laid the crutches by. 
And then one evening came a rousing cry 
94 



THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 95 

From where the year's last keelboat hove in view 
Around the bend, its swarthy, sweating crew 
Slant to the shouldered line. 

Men sang that night 
In Kiowa, and by the ruddy light 
Of leaping fires amid the wooden walls 
The cups went round; and there were merry 

brawls 

Of bearded lads no older for the beard ; 
And laughing stories vied with tales of weird 
By stream and prairie trail and mountain pass, 
Until the tipsy Bourgeois bawled for Glass 
To * shame these with a man's tale fit to hear/ 

The graybeard, sitting where the light was blear, 
With little heart for revelry, began 
His story, told as of another man 
Who, loving late, loved much and was betrayed. 
He spoke unwitting how his passion played 
Upon them, how their eyes grew soft or hard 
With what he told ; yet something of the bard 
He seemed, and his the purpose that is art's, 
Whereby men make a vintage of their hearts 
And with the wine of beauty deaden pain. 
Low-toned, insistent as October rain, 
His voice beat on ; and now and then would flit 
Across the melancholy gray of it 



96 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

A glimmer of cold fire that, like the flare 

Of soundless lightning, showed a world made bare, 

Green Summer slain and all its leafage stripped. 

And bronze jaws tightened, brawny hands were 

gripped, 

As though each hearer had a fickle friend. 
But when the old man might have made an end, 
Rounding the story to a peaceful close 
At Kiowa, songlike his voice arose, 
The grinning gray mask lifted and the eyes 
Burned as a bard's who sees and prophesies, 
Conning the future as a time long gone. 
Swaying to rhythm the dizzy tale plunged on 
Even to the cutting of the traitor's throat, 
And ceased as though a bloody strangling smote 
The voice of that gray chanter, drunk with 

doom. 
And there was shuddering in the blue-smeared 

gloom 

Of fallen fires. It seemed the deed was done 
Before their eyes who heard. 

The morrow's sun, 

Low over leagues of frost-enchanted plain, 
Saw Glass upon his pilgrimage again, 
Northbound as hunter for the keelboat's crew. 
And many times the wide autumnal blue 



THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 97 

Burned out and darkened to a deep of stars; 
And still they toiled among the snags and bars 
Those lean up-stream men, straining at the rope, 
Lashed by the doubt and strengthened by the 

hope 

Of backward winter engines wrought of bone 
And muscle, panting for the Yellowstone, 
Bend after bend and yet more bends away. 
Now was the river like a sandy bay 
At ebb-tide, and the far-off cutbank's boom 
Mocked them in shallows ; now 'twas like a flume 
With which the toilers, barely creeping, strove. 
And bend by bend the selfsame poplar grove, 
Set on the selfsame headland, so it seemed, 
Confronted them, as though they merely dreamed 
Of passing one drear point. 

So on and up 

Past where the tawny Titan gulps the cup 
Of Cheyenne waters, past the Moreau's mouth ; 
And still wry league and stubborn league fell 

south, 

Becoming haze and weary memory. 
Then past the empty lodges of the Ree 
That gaped at cornfields plundered by the Sioux ; 
And there old times came mightily on Hugh, 
For much of him was born and buried there. 
Some troubled glory of that wind-tossed hair 
H 



98 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Was on the trampled corn ; the lonely skies, 
So haunted with the blue of Jamie's eyes, 
Seemed taunting him ; and through the frosted 

wood 

Along the flat, where once their tent had stood, 
A chill wind sorrowed, and the blackbirds' brawl 
Amid the funeral torches of the Fall 
Ran raucously, a desecrating din. 

Past where the Cannon Ball and Heart come in 
They labored. Now the Northwest 'woke at last. 
The gaunt bluffs bellowed back the trumpet blast 
Of charging winds that made the sandbars smoke. 
To breathe now was to gulp fine sand, and choke : 
The stinging air was sibilant with whips. 
Leaning the more and with the firmer grips, 
Still northward the embattled toilers pressed 
To where the river yaws into the west. 
There stood the Mandan village. 

Now began 

The chaining of the Titan. Drift-ice ran. 
The winged hounds of Winter ceased to bay. 
The stupor of a doom completed lay 
Upon the world. The biting darkness fell. 
Out in the night, resounding as a well, 
They heard the deckplanks popping in a vise 
Of frost ; all night the smithies of the ice 



THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 99 

Reechoed with the griding jar and clink 
Of ghostly hammers welding link to link : 
And morning found the world without a sound. 
There lay the stubborn Prairie Titan bound, 
To wait the far-off Heraclean thaw, 
Though still in silent rage he strove to gnaw 
The ragged shackles knitting at his breast. 

And so the boatman won a winter's rest 
Among the Mandan traders : but for Hugh 
There yet remained a weary work to do. 
Across the naked country west by south 
His purpose called him at the Big Horn's mouth 
Three hundred miles of winging for the crow; 
But by the river trail that he must go 
J Twas seven hundred winding miles at least. 

So now he turned his back upon the feast, 
Snug ease, the pleasant tale, the merry mood, 
And took the bare, foot-sounding solitude 
Northwestward. Long they watched him from 

the Post, 

Skied on a bluff-rim, fading like a ghost 
At gray cock-crow ; and hooded in his breath, 
He seemed indeed a fugitive from Death 
On whom some tatter of the shroud still clung. 
Blank space engulfed him. 

Now the moon was yung 



ioo SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

When he set forth; and day by day he strode, 
His scarce healed wounds upon him like a load ; 
And dusk by dusk his fire outflared the moon 
That waxed until it wrought a spectral noon 
At nightfall. Then he came to where, awhirl 
With Spring's wild rage, the snow-born Titan girl, 
A skyey wonder on her virgin face, 
Receives the virile Yellowstone's embrace 
And bears the lusty Seeker for the Sea. 
A bleak, horizon-wide serenity 
Clung round the valley where the twain lay dead. 
A winding sheet was on the marriage bed. 

'Twas warmer now ; the sky grew overcast ; 

And as Hugh strode southwestward, all the vast 

Gray void seemed suddenly astir with wings 

And multitudinary whisperings 

The muffled sibilance of tumbling snow. 

It seemed no more might living waters flow, 

Moon gleam, star glint, dawn smoulder through, 

bird sing, 

Or ever any fair familiar thing 
Be so again. The outworn winds were furled. 
Weird weavers of the twilight of a world 
Wrought, thread on kissing thread, the web of 

doom. 
Grown insubstantial in the knitted gloom, 



THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 101 

The bluffs loomed eerie, and the scanty trees 
Were dwindled to remote dream-traceries 
That never might be green or shield a nest. 

All day with swinging stride Hugh forged south 
west 

Along the Yellowstone's smooth-paven stream, 
A dream-shape moving in a troubled dream ; 
And all day long the whispering weavers wove. 
And close on dark he came to where a grove 
Of cottonwoods rose tall and shadow-thin 
Against the northern bluffs. He camped therein 
And with cut boughs made shelter as he might. 

Close pressed the blackness of the snow-choked 

night 

About him, and his fire of plum wood purred. 
Athwart a soft penumbral drowse he heard 
The tumbling snowflakes sighing all around, 
Till sleep transformed it to a Summer sound 
Of boyish memory susurrant bees, 
The Southwind in the tousled apple trees 
And slumber flowing from their leafy gloom. 

He wakened to the cottonwoods' deep boom. 
Black fury was the world. The northwest's roar, 
As of a surf upon a shipwreck shore, 



102 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Plunged high above him from the sheer bluff's 

verge ; 

And, like the backward sucking of the surge, 
Far fled the sobbing of the wild snow-spray. 

Black blindness grew white blindness and 'twas 

day. 

All being now seemed narrowed to a span 
That held a sputtering wood fire and a man ; 
Beyond was tumult and a whirling maze. 
The trees were but a roaring in a haze; 
The sheer bluff-wall that took the blizzard's 

charge 

Was thunder flung along the hidden marge 
Of chaos, stridden by the ghost of light. 
White blindness grew black blindness and 'twas 

night 
Wherethrough nor moon nor any star might grope. 

Two days since, Hugh had killed an antelope 
And what remained sufficed the time of storm. 
The snow banked round his shelter kept him warm 
And there was wood to burn for many a day. 

The third dawn, oozing through a smudge of gray, 

Awoke him. It was growing colder fast. 

Still from the bluff high over boomed the blast, 



THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 103 

But now it took the void with numbing wings. 
By noon the woven mystery of things 
Frayed raggedly, and through a sudden rift 
At length Hugh saw the beetling bluff-wall lift 
A sturdy shoulder to the flying rack. 
Slowly the sense of distances came back 
As with the waning day the great wind fell. 
The pale sun set upon a frozen hell. 
The wolves howled. 

Hugh had left the Mandan town 
When, heifer-horned, the maiden moon lies down 
Beside the sea of evening. Now she rose 
Scar-faced and staring blankly on the snows 
While yet the twilight tarried in the west ; 
And more and more she came a tardy guest 
As Hugh pushed onward through the frozen 

waste 

Until she stole on midnight shadow-faced, 
A haggard spectre; then no more appeared. 

'Twas on that time the man of hoary beard 
Paused in the early twilight, looming lone 
Upon a bluff-rim of the Yellowstone, 
And peered across the white stream to the south 
Where in the flatland at the Big Horn's mouth 
The new fort stood that Henry's men had built. 



104 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

What perfect peace for such a nest of guilt ! 
What satisfied immunity from woe ! 
Yon sprawling shadow, pied with candle-glow 
And plumed with sparkling wood-smoke, might 

have been 

A homestead with the children gathered in 
To share its bounty through the holidays. 
Hugh saw their faces round the gay hearth-blaze : 
The hale old father in a mood for yarns 
Or boastful of the plenty of his barns, 
Fruitage of honest toil and grateful lands; 
And, half a stranger to her folded hands, 
The mother with October in her hair 
And August in her face. One moment there 
Hugh saw it. Then the monstrous brutal fact 
Wiped out the dream and goaded him to act, 
Though now to act seemed strangely like a dream. 

Descending from the bluff, he crossed the stream, 
The dry snow fifing to his eager stride. 
Reaching the fort stockade, he paused to bide 
The passing of a whimsy. Was it true ? 
Or was this but the fretted wraith of Hugh 
Whose flesh had fed the kiotes long ago ? 

Still through a chink he saw the candle-glow, 
So like an eye that brazened out a wrong. 
And now there came a flight of muffled song, 



THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 105 

The rhythmic thudding of a booted heel 

That timed a squeaking fiddle to a reel ! 

How swiftly men forget ! The spawning Earth 

Is fat with graves ; and what is one man worth 

That fiddles should be muted at his fall ? 

He should have died and did not that was 

all. 

Well, let the living jig it ! He would turn 
Back to the night, the spacious unconcern 
Of wilderness that never played the friend. 

Now came the song and fiddling to an end, 

And someone laughed within. The old man 

winced, 

Listened with bated breath, and was convinced 
'Twas Jamie laughing! Once again he heard. 
Joy filled a hush 'twixt heart-beats like a bird ; 
Then like a famished cat his lurking hate 
Pounced crushingly. 

He found the outer gate, 
Beat on it with his shoulder, raised a cry. 
No doubt 'twas deemed a fitful wind went by ; 
None stirred. But when he did not cease to 

shout, 

A door creaked open and a man came out 
Amid the spilling candle-glimmer, raised 
The wicket in the outer gate and gazed 



106 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

One moment on a face as white as death, 
Because the beard was thick with frosted breath 
Made mystic by the stars. Then came a gasp, 
The clatter of the falling wicket's hasp, 
The crunch of panic feet along the snow; 
And someone stammered huskily and low : 
"My God! I saw the Old Man's ghost out 

there!" 

'Twas spoken as one speaks who feels his hair 
Prickle the scalp. And then another said 
It seemed like Henry's voice "The dead are 

dead : 

What talk is this, Le Bon ? You saw him die ! 
Who's there?" 

Hugh strove to shout, to give the lie 
To those within ; but could not fetch a sound. 
Just so he dreamed of lying under ground 
Beside the Grand and hearing overhead 
The talk of men. Or was he really dead, 
And all this but a maggot in the brain ? 

Then suddenly the clatter of a chain 
Aroused him, and he saw the portal yawn 
And saw a bright rectangled patch of dawn 
As through a grave's mouth no, 'twas candle 
light 
Poured through the open doorway on the night ; 



THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 107 

And those were men before him, bulking black 
Against the glow. 

Reality flashed back; 
He strode ahead and entered at the door. 
A falling fiddle jangled on the floor 
And left a deathly silence. On his bench 
The fiddler shrank. A row of eyes, a-blench 
With terror, ran about the naked hall. 
And there was one who huddled by the wall 
And hid his face and shivered. 

For a spell 
That silence clung ; and then the old man : 

"Well, 

Is this the sort of welcome that I get ? 
'Twas not my time to feed the kiotes yet ! 
Put on the pot and stew a chunk of meat 
And you shall see how much a ghost can eat ! 
I've journeyed far if what I hear be true !" 

Now in that none might doubt the voice of 

Hugh, 

Nor yet the face, however it might seem 
A blurred reflection in a flowing stream, 
A buzz of wonder broke the trance of dread. 
"Good God!" the Major gasped ; "We thought 

you dead ! 
Two men have testified they saw you die!" 



io8 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

"If they speak truth," Hugh answered, "then I lie 
Both here and by the Grand. If I be right, 
Then two lie here and shall lie from this- night. 
Which are they ?" 

Henry answered : "Yon is one." 

The old man set the trigger of his gun 

And gazed on Jules who cowered by the wall. 

Eyes blinked, expectant of the hammer's fall ; 

Ears strained, anticipative of the roar. 

But Hugh walked leisurely across the floor 

And kicked the croucher, saying: "Come, get up 

And wag your tail ! I couldn't kill a pup !" 

Then turning round : "I had a faithful friend; 

No doubt he too was with me to the end ! 

Where's Jamie?" 

"Started out before the snows 
For Atkinson." 



JAMIE 

THE Country of the Crows, 
Through which the Big Horn and the Rosebud 

run, 

Sees over mountain peaks the setting sun ; 
And southward from the Yellowstone flung wide, 
It broadens ever to the morning side 
And has the Powder on its vague frontier. 
About the subtle changing of the year, 
Ere even favored valleys felt the stir 
Of Spring, and yet expectancy of her 
Was like a pleasant rumor all repeat 
Yet none may prove, the sound of horses' feet 
Went eastward through the silence of that land. 
For then it was there rode a little band 
Of trappers out of Henry's Post, to bear 
Dispatches down to Atkinson, and there 
To furnish out a keelboat for the Horn. 
And four went lightly, but the fifth seemed worn 
As with a heavy heart ; for that was he 
Who should have died but did not. 
109. 



no SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Silently 

He heard the careless parley of his men, 
And thought of how the Spring should come 

again, 

That garish strumpet with her world-old lure, 
To waken hope where nothing may endure, 
To quicken love where loving is betrayed. 
Yet now and then some dream of Jamie made 
Slow music in him for a little while ; 
And they who rode beside him saw a smile 
Glimmer upon that ruined face of gray, 
As on a winter fog the groping day 
Pours glory through a momentary rift. 
Yet never did the gloom that bound him, lift ; 
He seemed as one who feeds upon his heart 
And finds, despite the bitter and the smart, 
A little sweetness and is glad for that. 

Now up the Powder, striking for the Platte 
Across the bleak divide the horsemen went ; 
Attained that river where its course is bent 
From north to east : and spurring on apace 
Along the wintry valley, reached the place 
Where from the west flows in the Laramie. 
Thence, fearing to encounter with the Ree, 
They headed eastward through the barren land 
To where, fleet-footed down a track of sand, 



JAMIE in 

The Niobrara races for the morn 
A gaunt-loined runner. 

Here at length was born 
Upon the southern slopes the baby Spring, 
A timid, fretful, ill-begotten thing, 
A-suckle at the Winter's withered paps : 
Not such as when announced by thunder-claps 
And ringed with swords of lightning, she would 

ride, 

The haughty victrix and the mystic bride, 
Clad splendidly as never Sheba's Queen, 
Before her marching multitudes of green 
In many-bannered triumph ! Grudging, slow, 
Amid the fraying fringes of the snow 
The bunch-grass sprouted ; and the air was 

chill. 

Along the northern slopes 'twas winter still, 
And no root dreamed what Triumph-over-Death 
Was nurtured now in some bleak Nazareth 
Beyond the crest to sunward. 

On they spurred 

Through vacancies that waited for the bird, 
And everywhere the Odic Presence dwelt. 
The Southwest blew, the snow began to melt ; 
And when they reached the valley of the Snake, 
The Niobrara's ice began to break, 



112 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

And all night long and all day long it made 
A sound as of a random cannonade 
With rifles snarling down a skirmish line. 

The geese went over. Every tree and vine 
Was dotted thick with leaf-buds when they saw 
The little river of Keyapaha 

Grown mighty for the moment. Then they came, 
One evening when all thickets were aflame 
With pale green witch-fires and the windflowers 

blew, 

To where the headlong Niobrara threw 
His speed against the swoln Missouri's flank 
And hurled him roaring to the further bank 
A giant staggered by a pigmy's sling. 
Thence, plunging ever deeper into Spring, 
Across the greening prairie east by south 
They rode, and, just above the Platte's wide 

mouth, 
Came, weary with the trail, to Atkinson. 

There all the vernal wonder-work was done : 
No care-free heart might find aught lacking there. 
The dove's call wandered in the drowsy air; 
A love-dream brooded in the lucent haze. 
Priapic revellers, the shrieking jays 
Held mystic worship in the secret shade. 
Woodpeckers briskly plied their noisy trade 



JAMIE 113 

Along the tree-boles, and their scarlet hoods 
Flashed flame-like in the smoky cottonwoods. 
What lacked ? Not sweetness in the sun-lulled 

breeze ; 

The plum bloom murmurous with bumblebees 
Was drifted deep in every draw and slough. 
Not color ; witcheries of gold and blue 
The dandelion and the violet 
Wove in the green. Might not the sad forget, 
The happy here have nothing more to seek ? 
Lo, yonder by that pleasant little creek, 
How one might loll upon the grass and fish 
And build the temple of one's wildest wish 
'Twixt nibbles ! Surely there was quite enough 
Of wizard-timber and of wonder-stuff 
To rear it nobly to the blue-domed roof! 

Yet there was one whose spirit stood aloof 
From all this joyousness a gray old man, 
No nearer now than when the quest began 
To what he sought on that long winter trail. 

Aye, Jamie had been there ; but when the tale 
That roving trappers brought from Kiowa 
Was told to him, he seemed as one who saw 
A ghost, and could but stare on it, they said : 
Until one day he mounted horse and fled 



114 SON G OF HUGH GLASS 

Into the North, a devil-ridden man. 
"I've got to go and find him if I can," 
Was all he said for days before he left. 

And what of Hugh ? So long of love bereft, 
So long sustained and driven by his hate, 
A touch of ruth now made him desolate. 
No longer eager to avenge the wrong, 
With not enough of pity to be strong 
And" just enough of love to choke and sting, 
A gray old hulk amid the surge of Spring 
He floundered on a lee-shore of the heart. 

But when the boat was ready for the start 

Up the long watery stairway to the Horn, 

Hugh joined the party. And the year was shorn 

Of blooming girlhood as they forged amain 

Into the North ; the late green-mantled plain 

Grew sallow ; and the ruthless golden shower 

Of Summer wrought in lust upon the flower 

That withered in the endless martyrdom 

To seed. The scarlet quickened on the plum 

About the Heart's mouth when they came thereto ; 

Among the Mandans grapes were turning blue, 

And they were purple at the Yellowstone. 

A frosted scrub-oak, standing out alone 

Upon a barren bluff top, gazing far 

Above the crossing at the Powder's bar, 



JAMIE 115 

Was spattered with the blood of Summer slain. 

So it was Autumn in the world again, 

And all those months of toil had yielded nought 

To Hugh. (How often is the seeker sought 

By what he seeks a blind, heart-breaking 

game !) 

For always had the answer been the same 
From roving trapper and at trading post : 
Aye, one who seemed to stare upon a ghost 
And followed willy-nilly where it led, 
Had gone that way in search of Hugh, they said 
A haggard, blue-eyed, yellow-headed chap. 

And often had the old man thought, * Mayhap 
He'll be at Henry's Post and we shall meet ; 
And to forgive and to forget were sweet : 
'Tis for its nurse that Vengeance whets the tooth ! 
And oh the golden time of Jamie's youth, 
That it should darken for a graybeard's whim !' 
So Hugh had brooded, till there came on him 
The pity of a slow rain after drouth. 

But at the crossing of the Rosebud's mouth 
A shadow fell upon his growing dream. 
A band of Henry's traders, bound down stream, 
Who paused to traffic in the latest word 
Down-river news for matters seen and heard 



ii6 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

In higher waters had not met the lad, 
Not yet encountered anyone who had. 

Alas, the journey back tO'yesterwhiles ! 
How tangled are the trails ! The stubborn miles, 
How wearily they stretch ! And if one win 
The long way back in search of what has been, 
Shall he find aught that is not strange and new ? 

Thus wrought the melancholy news in Hugh, 
As he turned back with those who brought the 

news; 

For more and more he dreaded now to lose 
What doubtful seeking rendered doubly dear. 
And in the time when keen winds stripped the 

year 

He came with those to where the Poplar joins 
The greater river. There Assinoboines, 
Rich from the Summer's hunting, had come down 
And flung along the flat their ragged town, 
That traders might bring goods and winter there. 

So leave the heartsick graybeard. Otherwhere 
The final curtain rises on the play. 
'Tis dead of Winter now. For day on day 
The blizzard wind has thundered, sweeping wide 
From Mississippi to the Great Divide 



JAMIE 117 

Out of the North beyond Saskatchewan. 

Brief evening glimmers like an inverse dawn 

After a long white night. The tempest dies ; 

The snow-haze lifts. Now let the curtain rise 

Upon Milk River valley, and reveal 

The stars like broken glass on frosted steel 

Above the Piegan lodges, huddled deep 

In snowdrifts, like a freezing flock of sheep. 

A crystal weight the dread cold crushes down 

And no one moves about the little town 

That seems to grovel as a thing that fears. 

But see ! a lodge-flap swings ; a squaw appears, 
Hunched with the sudden cold. Her footsteps 

creak 

Shrill in the hush. She stares upon the bleak, 
White skyline for a moment, then goes in. 
We follow her, push back the flap of skin, 
Enter the lodge, inhale the smoke-tanged air 
And blink upon the little faggot-flare 
That blossoms in the center of the room. 
Unsteady shadows haunt the outer gloom 
Wherein the walls are guessed at. Upward, 

far, 

The smoke-vent now and then reveals a star 
As in a well. The ancient squaw, a-stoop, 
Her face light-stricken, stirs a pot of soup 



ii8 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

That simmers with a pleasant smell and sound. 
A gnarled old man, cross-legged upon the ground, 
Sits brooding near. He feeds the flame with 

sticks ; 

It brightens. Lo, a leaden crucifix 
Upon the wall ! These heathen eyes, though dim, 
Have seen the white man's God and cling to Him, 
Lest on the sunset trail slow feet should err. 

But look again. From yonder bed of fur 
Beside the wall a white man strives to rise. 
He lifts his head, with yearning sightless eyes 
Gropes for the light. A mass of golden hair 
Falls round the face that sickness and despair 
Somehow make old, albeit he is young. 
His weak voice, stumbling to the mongrel tongue 
Of traders, flings a question to the squaw : 
"You saw no Black Robe ? Tell me what you 

saw!" 

And she, brief-spoken as her race, replies : 
"Heaped snow sharp stars a kiote on the 

rise." 

The blind youth huddles moaning in the furs. 
The firewood spits and pops, the boiled pot purrs 
And sputters. On this little isle of sound 
The sea of winter silence presses round 
One feels it like a menace. 



JAMIE 119 

Now the crone 

Dips out a cup of soup, and having blown 
Upon it, takes it to the sick man there 
And bids him eat. With wild, unseeing stare 
He turns upon her : "Why are they so long ? 
I can not eat ! I've done a mighty wrong ; 
It chokes me ! Oh no, no, I must not die 
Until the Black Robe comes !" His feeble cry 
Sinks to a whisper. "Tell me, did they go 
Your kinsmen ?" 

"They went south before the snow." 
"And will they tell the Black Robe ?" 

"They will tell." 

The crackling of the faggots for a spell 
Seems very loud. Again the sick man moans 
And, struggling with the weakness in his bones, 
Would gain his feet, but can not. "Go again, 
And tell me that you see the bulks of men 
Dim in the distance there." 

The squaw obeys ; 

Returns anon to crouch beside the blaze, 
Numb-fingered and a-shudder from the night. 
The vacant eyes that hunger for the light 
Are turned upon her: "Tell me what you saw! 
Or maybe snowshoes sounded up the draw. 
Quick, tell me what you saw and heard out there !" 



120 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

"Heaped snow sharp stars big stillness every 
where." 

One clutching at thin ice with numbing grip 

Cries while he hopes ; but when his fingers slip, 

He takes the final plunge without a sound. 

So sinks the youth now, hopeless. All around 

The winter silence presses in ; the walls 

Grow vague and vanish in the gloom that crawls 

Close to the failing fire. 

The Piegans sleep. 

Night hovers midway down the morning steep. 
The sick man drowses. Nervously he starts 
And listens; hears no sound except his heart's 
And that weird murmur brooding stillness makes. 
But stealthily upon the quiet breaks 
Vague as the coursing of the hearer's blood 
A muffled, rhythmic beating, thud on thud, 
That, growing nearer, deepens to a crunch. 
So, hungry for the distance, snowshoes munch 
The crusted leagues of Winter, stride by stride. 
A camp-dog barks ; the hollow world outside 
Brims with the running howl of many curs. 

Now wide-awake, half risen in the furs, 
The youth can hear low voices and the creak 
Of snowshoes near the lodge. His thin, wild 
shriek 



JAMIE 121 

Startles the old folk from their slumberings : 
" He comes ! The Black Robe ! " 

Now the door-flap swings, 
And briefly one who splutters Piegan, bars 
The way, then enters. Now the patch of stars 
Is darkened with a greater bulk that bends 
Beneath the lintel. " Peace be with you, friends ! 
And peace with him herein who suffers pain I" 
So speaks the second comer of the twain 
A white man by his voice. And he who lies 
Beside the wall, with empty, groping eyes 
Turned to the speaker: "There can be no peace 
For me, good Father, till this gnawing cease 
The gnawing of a great wrong I have done." 

The big man leans above the youth : "My son " 
(Grown husky with the word, the deep voice 

breaks, 

And for a little spell the whole man shakes 
As with the clinging cold) " have faith and 

hope ! 

'Tis often nearest dawn when most we grope. 
Does not the Good Book say, Who seek shall 

find?" 

"But, Father, I am broken now and blind, 
And I have sought, and I have lost the way." 
To which the stranger : "What would Jesus say ? 



122 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Hark ! In the silence of the heart 'tis said 
By their own weakness are the feeble sped ; 
The humblest feet are surest for the goal ; 
The blind shall see the City of the Soul. 
Lay down your burden at His feet to-night." 

Now while the fire, replenished, bathes in light 
The young face scrawled with' suffering and care, 
Flinging ironic glories on the hair 
And glinting on dull eyes that once flashed blue, 
The sick one tells the story of old Hugh 
To him whose face, averted from the glow, 
Still lurks in gloom. The winds of battle blow 
Once more along the steep. Again one sees 
The rescue from the fury of the Rees, 
The graybeard's fondness for the gay lad ; then 
The westward march with Major Henry's men 
With all that happened there upon the Grand. 

"And so we hit the trail of Henry's band," 
The youth continues; "for we feared to die : 
And dread of shame was ready with the lie 
We carried to our comrades. Hugh was dead 
And buried there beside the Grand, we said. 
Could any doubt that what we said was true ? 
They even praised our courage ! But I knew ! 
The nights were hell because I heard his cries 
And saw the crows a-pecking at his eyes, 



JAMIE 123 

The kiotes tearing at him. O my God ! 

I tried and tried to think him under sod ; 

But every time I slept it was the same. 

And then one night I lay awake he came ! 

I say he came I know I hadn't slept ! 

Amid a light like rainy dawn, he crept 

Out of the dark upon his hands and knees. 

The wound he got that day among the Rees 

Was like red fire. A snarl of bloody hair 

Hung round the eyes that had a pleading stare, 

And down the ruined face and gory beard 

Big tear-drops rolled. He went as he appeared, 

Trailing a fog of light that died away. 

And I grew old before I saw the day. 

Father, I had paid too much for breath ! 
The Devil traffics in the fear of death, 
And may God pity anyone who buys 

What I have bought with treachery and lies 
This rat-like gnawing in my breast ! 

" I knew 

1 couldn't rest until I buried Hugh ; 
And so I told the Major I would go 
To Atkinson with letters, ere the snow 

Had choked the trails. Jules wouldn't come 

along ; 
He didn't seem to realize the wrong ; 



124 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

He called me foolish, couldn't understand. 
I rode alone not south, but to the Grand. 
Daylong my horse beat thunder from the sod, 
Accusing me ; and all my prayers to God 
Seemed flung in vain at bolted gates of brass. 
And in the night the wind among the grass 
Hissed endlessly the story of my shame. 

" I do not know how long I rode : I came 

Upon the Grand at last, and found the place, 

And it was empty. Not a sign or trace 

Was left to show what end had come to Hugh. 

And oh that grave ! It gaped upon the blue, 

A death-wound pleading dumbly for the slain. 

I filled it up and fled across the plain, 

And somehow came to Atkinson at last. 

And there I heard the living Hugh had passed 

Along the river northward in the Fall ! 

O Father, he had found the strength to crawl 

That long, heart-breaking distance back to life, 

Though Jules had taken blanket, steel and knife. 

And I, his trusted comrade, had his gun ! 

" They said I'd better stay at Atkinson, 
Because old Hugh was surely hunting me, 
White-hot to kill. I did not want to flee 
Or hide from him. I even wished to die, 
If so this aching cancer of a lie 



JAMIE 125 

Might be torn out forever. So I went, 
As eager as the homesick homeward bent, 
In search of him and peace. 

But I was cursed. 

For even when his stolen rifle burst 
And spewed upon me this eternal night, 
I might not die as any other might ; 
But God so willed that friendly Piegans came 
To spare me yet a little unto shame. 
O Father, is there any hope for me ?" 

"Great hope indeed, my son !" so huskily 

The other answers. "I recall a case 

Like yours no matter what the time and 

place 

'Twas somewhat like the story that you tell ; 
Each seeking and each sought, and both in hell; 
But in the tale I mind, they met at last." 

The youth sits up, white-faced and breathing 

fast : 
"They met, you say ? What happened ? Quick ! 

Oh quick!" 

"The old man found the dear lad blind and sick 
And both forgave 'twas easy to forgive 
For oh we have so short a time to live " 



126 SONG OF HUGH GLASS 

Whereat the youth: "Who's here? The Black 

Robe's gone ! 
Whose voice is this ?" 

The gray of winter dawn 
Now creeping round the door-flap, lights the 

place 

And shows thin fingers groping for a face 
Deep-scarred and hoary with the frost of years 
Whereover runs a new springtide of tears. 

"O Jamie, Jamie, Jamie I am Hugh ! 

There was no Black Robe yonder Will I do ?' : 



NOTES 



BY JULIUS T. HOUSE, PH.D. (Chicago) 

Head of the Department of English at the State Normal School, 
Wayne, Nebraska 




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NOTES 

GRAYBEARD AND GOLDHAIR 
Before beginning the poem carefully read the Introduction. 

PAGE I 

In the study of this poem it is necessary to learn the geography and 
topography of the country. Define " topography." Tell about Leaven- 
worth Campaign; Major Henry. 

The story of Hugh Glass is historical and may be found in the fol 
lowing works : Chittenden's History of the American Fur Trade, New 
York, 1902; Sage's Scenes in the Rocky Mountains, Boston, 1857; 
Ruxton's Adventures in Mexico, London, 1847; Howe's Historical Col 
lections of the Great West, Cincinnati, 1857; Cooke's Scenes and Ad 
ventures in the U. S. Army, Philadelphia, 1857; The Missouri Intelli 
gencer for June 18, 1825. Accounts of the death of Hugh Glass, in 
1832, are given in The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, 
London, 1892, and in Maximilian's Travels, London, 1843. 

2. 'Twas when the guns that blustered at the Ree 

Ree Aricara or Rickaree Indians. Locate them in 1823. 
Where are they now ? 

3. Had ceased to brag, and ten score martial clowns 

Why "clowns" ? See Introduction. 
6. A withering blast the arid South still blew, 

What is "South"? Why capitalized ? Did Homer and Vergil 
personify the winds ? 

9. Southward before the Great White Hunter's face : 

Who is the Great White Hunter ? What is the time of year ? 
K 129 



130 NOTES 

13. With eighty trappers up the dwindling Grand, 

Why "dwindling"? 

14. Bound through the weird, unfriending barren-land 

"Unfriending" whom ? 

16. For where the Big Horn meets the Yellowstone; 
Locate the junction of the streams. 

PAGE 2 

1. Deep-chested, that his great heart might have play, 

Describe Hugh Glass. Hugh's physical characteristics are drawn 
in large lines. Compare this with the more elaborate descriptions 
of persons in other books. Which is more effective ? 

2. Gray-bearded, gray of eye and crowned with gray 

Our author's descriptions leave much room for the play of the 
reader's imagination. Is this method effective with you ? 

4. And, for the grudging habit of his tongue, 
"For" by reason of. 

8. And hate in him was like a still, white hell, 

Why "white"? 

9. A thing of doom not lightly reconciled. 

What does "reconciled" modify? What is this figure called ? 
14. Old Hugh stared long upon the pictured blaze, 

What were the pictures Hugh saw in the blaze ? Would you like 
to know more of Hugh's past ? Why does not the author tell us 
more concerning it ? 

17. The veil was rent, and briefly men discerned 

What "veil"? 
19. Beneath the still gray smoldering of him. 

What figure in "still gray smoldering"? Was Hugh a good 
fighter ? A man whose anger was to be feared ? 



NOTES 131 

PAGE 3 

2. So, tardily, outflowered the wild blond strain 

Whence the "wild blond strain" ? 
4. A Ganymedes haunted by a Goth 

Who was Ganymedes ? The Goths ? 
6. When the restive ghost was laid, 

What was the "restive ghost" ? How old was Jamie r 
17. When Ashley stormed a bluff town of the Ree, 

Who was Ashley ? See Introduction. 
20. Yet, hardly courage, but blind rage agrope 

What is courage ? 

23. Tore off the gray mask, and the heart shone through. 

What was the "gray mask" ? 

24. For, halting in a dry, flood-guttered draw, 

Define " draw" as here used. How does it differ from " ravine " ? 
from "gully" ? 

PAGE 4 

24. As though spring-fire should waken out of snow. 
Explain the figure. 

PAGE 5 
4. So with their sons are women brought to bed, 

Of whom .is Hugh thinking when he uses these words ? 

13. Nor could these know what mocking ghost of Spring 

Express in other words the idea contained in "mocking ghost 
of Spring." 

16. So might a dawn-struck digit of the moon 

Explain the figure and interpret it in terms of Hugh's feelings for 
Jamie. 



132 NOTES 

18. And ache through all its craters to be green. 

What is the present condition of the surface of the moon ? 
21. Pang dwelling in a puckered cicatrice 
Define " cicatrice." Explain the figure. 

23. Yet very precious was the hurt thereof, 

24. Grievous to bear, too dear to cast away. 

These lines constitute a paradox. Define " paradox." Explain 
the meaning of the lines. Can pain be "precious" ? 

PAGE 6 

What lines in this page forecast an approaching disaster ? Can you 
recall such forecasts in other pieces of literature ? 

10. A phantom April over melting snow, 

Why "phantom" April? 

11. Deep in the North some new white wrath is brewed. 

Express the meaning of this line in other language. How does 
it apply to the story ? 

16. Tales jagged with the bleak unstudied word, 

Was the language of Hugh's stories polished ? Effective ? Are 
men natural story tellers ? Answer from your own experience. 
What does the life of primitive man tell us with regard to the 
matter ? 

17. Stark saga-stuff. 

Define "saga." What is meant by the words: "stark saga- 
stuff" ? 

19. A mere pelt merchant, as it seemed to him ; 

Define: pelt, epic, whist. Is "Hugh Glass" epic in material 
and form ? 



NOTES 



133 



PAGE 7 

Which of these men loves the other more ? In case of severe trial will 
each be true to the other ? Is either likely to be vengeful ? unforgiv 
ing ? fickle ? 

3. That myth that somehow had to be the truth, 

What is "that myth" ? What feeling is expressed in "had to be 
the truth " ? 

4. Yet could not be convincing any more. 

Why could it not "be convincing any more" ? 
17. And so with merry jest the old man went; 

Note in the passage the second forecast of disaster. 

PAGE 8 
9. The dusty progress of the cavalcade 

10. The journey of a snail flock to the moon; 

What feeling in Jamie is made clear in this figure ? 

11. Until the shadow-weaving afternoon 

Explain the figure "shadow-weaving afternoon," etc. 

17. Hoofbeats of ghostly steeds on every hill, 

18. Mysterious, muffled hoofs on every bluff! 

19. Spurred echo horses clattering up the rough, etc. 

Explain "hoofbeats of ghostly steeds," "muffled hoofs," "echo 
horses." 

21. The lagging air droned like the drowsy word 

Why " drowsy " word ? The transfer of an epithet is called a 
"trope," from a Greek word meaning to turn. 

PAGE 9 

1. Lean galloper in a wind of splendid deeds, 

Note the vivid imagery and the effect of the broken meter. 



134 NOTES 

4. The horse stopped short then Jamie was aware, etc. 
What gives the effect of loneliness in these lines ? 
Note the effect of vast stretches of space in the use of the names 
of heavenly bodies to denote the points of the compass. A sense 
of the infinity of space arises often in the reader of this poem. 
Any imaginative person feels this sense ever deepening upon him 
on looking long at the prairies. 

11. Save for a welter of cawing crows, 

What is the effect of the cawing of the crows in the general still 
ness ? 
Note that the meter is intentionally changed. What effect ? 

13. One faint star, set above the fading blush, etc. 

What is the effect of the mention of the star and its growing from 
faint to clear ? 

16. For answer, the horse neighed. 

What is the effect of the neighing of the horse ? 

17. Some vague mistrust now made him half afraid, etc. 

Mistrust of what ? Is disaster near ? 
PAGE IO 

1. " Somewhere about the forks as like as not ; 

2. And there'll be hunks of fresh meat steaming hot, 

3. And righting stories by a dying fire !" 

Why does Jamie talk to himself? 

4. The sunset reared a luminous phantom spire 
6. That, crumbling, sifted ashes down the sky. 

What is the effect of these two lines ? 

8. And in the vast denial of the hush 

9. The champing of the snaffled horse seemed loud. 

What is the effect of these two lines ? What is the "vast denial" ? 
Why mention "the champing of the horse"? Pages 9 and 10 



NOTES 135 

are used to induce in the reader a sense of extreme loneliness. 
Where is the climax ? What devices have been employed for the 
purpose ? 

17. The laggard air was like a voice that sang, 

Why is the air now as a voice that sings rather than drowsy and 
weird ? 

13. And Jamie half believed he sniffed the tang 
19. Of woodsmoke and the smell of flesh a-roast; 

These lines indicate the lad's eagerness. 

I 

PAGE II 

2. And in the whirlwind of a moment there, etc. 

Could Jamie perceive so much in so brief a time under such cir 
cumstances ? Does the picture in "huddled, broken thing" 
seem realistic ? 

11. A landscape stares with every circumstance etc. 

Jamie's experience in the preceding lines is here explained. Did 
you ever notice how plainly things stand out in a flare of light 



ning 



11. Then before his eyes, etc. 

Is this consistent with the part of Jamie in the fight with the 
Rees ? 

22. Heard the brush crash etc. 

Onomatopoeia. Define " rubble." 

PAGE 12 

1. A swift thought swept the mind of Jamie clear, etc. 

Is the change in Jamie from anger to coolness good psychology ? 
Why? 



136 NOTES 

8. Swerved sharply streamward. Sliddering in the sand, 

Note onomatopoeia. How did Jamie elude the bear ? 
17. Like some vague shape of fury in a dream, 

Why did the sight of the bear seem thus to Jamie ? 

PAGE 13 

4. Would think of such a "trick of getting game" ! 

For a moment Jamie feels as if Hugh were still living and he can 
now triumph in his skill. Was that natural in a boy ? 

6. Like a dull blade thrust back into a wound. 

Memory of sorrow "like a dull blade," etc. Is that true to life ? 

10. Like some familiar face gone strange at last. 
Meaning of "gone strange at last" ? 

In this and the next three pages note the sincerity and the boy 
ishness of Jamie's affection and grief. It is necessary to under 
stand Jamie now that the reader may interpret his later conduct. 
Define : eld, blear. 

PAGE 14 
6. Had wiped the pictured features from a slate ! etc. 

Note two powerful similes in these lines. Do they convey ade 
quately the horror of the spectator? This "ruined face" of 
Hugh's has much place in the remainder of the story. The lines 
are not pleasant to read, but life is not always pleasant. Homer 
and Shakespeare often wrote lines that shock by their naked 
truth. 

15. Still painted upon black that alien stare 

Why "alien stare"? 

16. To make the lad more terribly alone. 

Why "more terribly alone"? 



NOTES 137 

21. Pale vagrants from the legendry of death 

Pale vagrants, i.e. ghosts. 

Define : funereal, alien, legendry, potential. 

PAGE 17 
6. For, though the graybeard fought with sobbing breath, etc. 

A wrestling match in which death has a "strangling grip" on 
Hugh. Note the vividness of physical imagery, "neck veins 
like a purple thong tangled with knots." What biblical allu 
sion in "break upon the hip" ? 

11. There where the trail forked outward far and dim ; 

What "trail forked outward"? 
13. His moan went treble like a song of pain, 

Does the voice become like a shrill song under such circum 
stances ? 

20. For dying is a game of solitaire, etc. 

A grim epigram. 
Define : treble, solitaire. 

PAGE 1 8 

The rest of this division of the poem develops the catastrophe of 
cowardice and treachery. The elements of it are (i) Jamie's youth- 
fulness and unsettled character, (z) Le Bon's ability to play upon his 
weakness, (3) the actual nearness of the Rees, (4) the apparently hope 
less condition of Hugh prolonged over several days. 

12. That mercenary motives prompted him. 

Do you believe the protestations of Jules that mercenary motives 
do not prompt him ? Does he "protest too much" ? 

16, The Rickarees were scattered to the West : 
Why mention the Indians so early ? 



138 NOTES 

19. Three days a southwest wind may blow 

A southwest wind on the plains is always warm, and seldom 

carries rain. 

Explain the application. 

PAGE 19 
Why does Jules talk always as though the death of Hugh were certain ? 

10. Unnumbered tales accordant with the case, 

Do you think Le Bon knew these tales ? 

18. A bear's hug ugh !' And often Jamie winced etc. 
What was the effect on Jamie ? 
Define : dialectic, colophon. 

PAGE 2O 
8. So summoning a mood etc. 

How do Le Bon's storiefe change as night comes on ? Is his 
psychology effective ? Note the increase in the fears of Jamie. 

11. Of men outnumbered : and, like him of old, etc. 

"Him of old" ^Eneas in ^neid, Book II. 
23. Gray-souled, he wakened to a dawn of gray, 

" Gray-souled " meaning ? "A poet is known by his epithets/ 
Define : lugubriously, garrulous. 

PAGE 21 

1. And felt that something strong had gone away, 
What strong thing had gone away ? 

5. Jules, snug and snoring in his blanket there, etc. 

Is it natural that the conscious living Jules should seem more 
real to the boy than his unconscious friend ? 

6. Just so, pain etc. 

Note the epigram. Is it a true one ? 



NOTES 139 

14. But grappled with the angel. 

Jacob in Genesis. 
18. Many men May tower, etc. 

Would such a statement be peculiarly true of a boy like Jamie ? 
Recall his conduct in the Ree fight. 

24. Nor might a fire be lit, 

Note the shrewdness of Jules in failing to light a fire. 

PAGE 22 

What shows that Jamie is at the breaking point ? 
4. And with it lulled the fight, as on a field, etc. 

The crisis of the disease. 
9. It would soon be o'er, etc. 

Jules talks in sentimental vein. Sentimental people are very 
often cruel. ' 

17. To dig a hole that might conceal a man ; 

Would Jamie have resented the digging of a grave four days 

earlier ? 

Jules easily weeps. So do many insincere people. 

Define: beleagured, mutability, immemorial, funerary. 

PAGES 23-25 

The last stage of Jamie's breakdown. 

Had you any doubt that Jules would beget panic in Jamie ? How 
much do you blame Jamie ? Why did Le Bon take Hugh's gun, blanket, 
and knife ? 

THE AWAKENING 

PAGE 26 

Note that the last line of the first division of the poem rhymes with 
the first line of the second division. Have you noticed that many times 
the rhyming lines close one paragraph and open the next ? The effect 



140 NOTES 

of this device is to keep the mind of the reader in strain for what is to 
follow. 

What is a couplet ? Is the poem written in couplets ? How is the 
caesura handled in this poem ? Compare with Pope's method in 
" Essay on Man." 

3. But some globose immensity of blue 

Note epithets in this line. How comprehensive ! 

7. So one late plunged into the lethal sleep, etc, 

The sensation of the awakening is likened to the possible ex 

perience of one in death. The author is much interested in such 

matters. 

Define " lethal." What literary associations with this word ? 

12. The quiet steep-arched splendor of the day. 

At what time of day did Hugh awake ? 

PAGE 27 
2. But when he would obey, the hollow skies etc. 

Note the suddenness of the loss of consciousness as expressed in 
the metaphor: "the hollow skies," etc. 

5. Remote unto his horizontal gaze 

6. He saw the world's end kindle to a blaze etc. 

At what time did Hugh re-awaken ? 

What is the effect upon the reader of the expression "world's 

end" rather than "east" ? 

9. Dawn found the darkling reaches of his mind, etc. 
A figure from archaeology. Explain. 

13. Men school the dream to build the past anew 

What part of speech is " school " ? 
17. Wherein men talked as ghosts above a grave. 

This is the second suggestion that Hugh was vaguely conscious 
of what happened before his awakening. 
Define : shards, torsos, rubble, sag. 



NOTES I 4I 

PAGE 28 

6. Sickened with torture he lay huddled there. 

Note the vividness of such words as, " sickened," " torture," 
" huddled," which appeal both to muscular sense and to sight. 

7. Proportioned to the might that felt the chain. 

Explain. 
10. That vacancy about him like a wall, etc. 

The power of that which yields and yet restrains suggests the 
sense of helplessness that came to Hugh. This feeling is often 
brought out in the later portions of the poem. 

20. Grimly amused, he raised his head, etc. 

What was the effect of "the empty distance" and "the twitter 
of a lonely bird" on Hugh? Why question whether there was 
something wrong ? 
Define : collusive, bleak. 

PAGE 29 

On this and the following page we have the stages by which Hugh 
learns that he has been deserted. Note the steps : (i) Major Henry is 
prompt, (2) many hoof prints of horses, (3) the grave known for a grave 
by its shape, (4) ash heap and litter of a camp, (5) the trail. 

8. Of course the horse had bolted 

That is, run away. 
17. A grave a grave, etc. 

Does Hugh really wonder if he has been dead and has arisen ? 
For the third time it is stated that Hugh heard the talk of his 
comrades while he was prostrate from the bear's attack. 

26. Suspicion, like a little smoky lamp etc. 
Note simile. Is it effective ? 



142 NOTES 

PAGE JO 

1. That daubs the murk but cannot fathom it, 
Hugh's suspicions are vague as yet. 

6. The smoky glow flared wildly, 
What "smoky glow"? 

10. A gloom-devouring ecstasy of flame, 

11. A dazing conflagration of belief! 

Suspicion passes to certainty. Explain the whole figure from 
the beginning. 

12. Plunged deeper than the seats of hate and grief, etc. 

Does nature sometimes seem to mock our moods ? The older 
literatures seem unconscious of this psychology. Note Bryant's 
" Death of the Flowers." 

Define : daub, grotesque, ecstasy, apathetic, complacence, con 
nivance. 

PAGE 31 

2. His manifest betrayal by a friend 

Why does the desertion of Jamie make that of others seem noth 
ing? 

13. Yet not as they for whom tears fall like dew etc. 

Hugh's tears are not shallow; they indicate a lasting sorrow. 
Those who weep easily, easily forget. 

18. He lay, a gray old ruin of a man, etc. 

Both physically and emotionally, a remarkable metaphor. 

20. And then at length, as from the long ago, etc. 

His suffering makes the time of friendship seem long ago. A 
song may be both sweet and sad, as may also love. 

26. ... as in a foggy night 

32 1. The witchery of semilunar light, etc. 

A fine comparison of the spiritual to the material. 
Define : zany, retrospective. 



NOTES 143 

PAGE 32 

6. As under snow the daemon of the Spring. 

"Daemon," spirit. 
8. Nor might treachery recall, etc. 

He had been loved, nothing could change that; he could go on 
loving and nothing could change that either. This is the high 
note in devotion. "If ye love them that love you, what thank 
have ye ?" 

16. Upon the vessel of a hope so great, etc. 

The lover is only the vessel of the great passion. 
21. Now, as before, collusive sky and plain etc. 

Sky and plain have conspired to take Hugh's life, so it seems to 
him. They represent distance that yields but still is uncon- 
quered. This idea haunts the "Crawl." 

PAGE 33 
1. For, after all, what thing do men desire, etc. 

Food and shelter are necessary to any life ; all values rest upon 
them. This idea is fundamental in modern thinking. 

20. Jamie was a thief! 

Why Jamie more than others ? 
Define " gage." 

PAGE 34 

6. And through his veins regenerating fire etc. 

Anger made him strong, while grief made him weak. Is that 
not true to nature ? 

7. Now once again he scanned the yellow plain, etc. 

Hugh projects his subjective condition on nature. This idea 
occurs often in the poem. Is it a true conception ? 



144 NOTES 

14. Alas for those who fondly place above, etc. 

A continuation of the philosophy found on page 32. Love is the 
supreme thing, not the person who is loved. The way is itself 
the goal. 

19. A bitter-sweet narcotic to the will, etc. 

Note how Hugh's hate arouses his energies. For his purposes it 
is stronger than love. 

Define: bellowsed, regenerating, lethargy, conspirant, merging 
vulnerable, narcotic. 

PAGE 35 
11. Leaning to the spring, etc. 

The final horror, his face, fixes Hugh's hate to a steady, burning 
purpose, seeming equal to his task. 

PAGE 36 
6. That waste to be surmounted as a wall, 

6. Sky-rims and yet more sky-rims steep to climb 

In gazing across a vast space to the horizon, one seems to be 
looking uphill. This is especially noticeable on the ocean. 

7. That simulacrum of enduring Time 

One traveling long distances by his own power, and having no 
means of measurement, conceives space not in miles, but in 
duration of effort. 

8. The hundred empty miles 'twixt him and where 

Why "empty" miles? 
11. One hairsbreadth farther from the earth and sky 

He was as remote from all things as it was possible to be, so why 

not try ! 

Define "simulacrum." 



NOTES 145 

THE CRAWL 

PAGE 37 

The Crawl is the most detailed account of physical suffering and en 
durance extant in poetry. Note the large number of words that make 
direct appeal to the sensations of thirst, weariness, chronic pain, fever, 
delirium. Again the sense of loneliness, of betrayal, of a conspiracy to 
destroy him appears everywhere in Hugh's experience. The monotony 
of the journey appears in its slowness, which is indicated in many ways. 

Before describing the Crawl, Neihardt first found out what vegetable 
growths would be found on the trail, the character of the soil, how the 
streams would erode, etc. The poet is true to all nature, even natural 
science. 

3. And through it ran the short trail to the goal. 

What was the "goal" ? Ree villages lay nearly directly east. 

4. Thereon a grim turnpikeman waited toll : 

Who is the "grim turnpikeman" ? 
7. Should make their foe the haunter of a tale. 

Hugh was killed on the Yellowstone by the Rees in 1832. 
9. The scoriae region of a hell burned black 

The bad lands of the Little Missouri, so made to appear by spon 
taneous combustion of lignite deposits. 

13. Should bid for pity at the Big Horn's mouth. 

Locate the Big Horn's mouth, where Henry and his men spent 
the winter of 1823-1824. 

PAGE 38 

2. Whereon the feeders of the Moreau head 

Head waters of the Moreau. Locate the Moreau. 



146 NOTES 

3. Scarce more than deep-carved runes of vernal rain. 

The rune was a character in the ancient alphabet and ultimately 
came to stand for poetry. Here the original meaning as a deep 
cut is restored. 

6. Defiant clumps of thirst embittered grass, etc. 

Note how exactly the characteristics of an arid landscape are 
set forth in such phrases as "thirst embittered grass," "parched 
earth," "bared and fang-like roots," "dwarf thickets," "stunted 
fruits." The poet is shown by exactness, not inaccuracy. 

16. And made the scabrous gulch appear to shake 

The very sound of the word "scabrous" suggests dryness. 

20. And where the mottled shadow dripped as ink etc. 

The shadow of leaves on the yellow earth is black. The descrip 
tion is absolutely accurate. "A poet is known by his epithets." 

PAGE 39 

3. Amid ironic heavens in the West 
Why "ironic heavens " ? 

6. A purpling panorama swept away. 

Why "purpling"? 

7. Scarce farther than a shout might carry 

How far had Hugh traveled in the day ? 
16. Into the quiet house of no false friend. 

What "quiet house" ? 
17-20. Alas for those who seek a journey's end etc. 

The philosophy of these lines is that the way is the important 

thing, not the end. This is a part of Neihardt's life-philosophy. 

21. Now swoopingly the world of dream broke through 

Note that no two of Hugh's dreams are alike. In this dream his 
revenge is futile. Is that the nature of revenge, to defeat itself? 
How many lines are taken to tell this dream ? How much in 
little space ! 



NOTES 147 

PAGE 40 

1. Gazing far, etc. 

Another remarkable description of the sky and prairie and their 
effect upon Hugh. 

Make a list of epithets descriptive of both sky and prairie as 
you find them on pages 26-27-28-29-30-32-34-36-39. Epithets 
may be adjectives or verbs or nouns. Such are "globose im 
mensity," "smoky steep," "serene antagonist," "negativity of 
might." 

9. Seemed that vast negativity of might; etc. 

In what sense is the might of distance negative ? 

What was the "frustrate vision of the night" ? 

What does the poet mean by saying it came "moonwise" ? 

What is Hugh's mood when he feels that the foe is "naught but 

yielding air " ? 

13. A vacancy to fill with his intent ! 

What is the grammatical construction of "to fill" ? 
15. Three-footed ; and the vision goaded him. 

What vision "goaded him" ? 

24. Served but to brew more venom for his hate, 

Why is hate spoken of as venomous ? What has modern Physi 
ology to say of this ? 

25. And nerved him to avail the most with least. 

What is meant by "avail the most with least" ? 

PAGE 41 

10. Devoured the chance-flung manna of the plains 

"Manna" what is the reference ? 
18. The coulee deepened ; yellow walls flung high, etc. 

Accurate description of arid conditions by their effect on Hugh. 



148 NOTES 

PAGE 42 

6. It had the acrid tang of broken trust 

7. The sweetish, tepid taste of feigning love ! 

A projection of the subjective into the objective. 
14. Clear as a friend's heart, 'twas, and seeming cool 
The same as above. 

22. And lo, the tang of that wide insolence 

23. Of sky and plain was acrid in the draught ! 

Note again the attitude of nature, as Hugh sees it, in its "wide 
insolence." 

25. How like fine sentiment the mirrored sky etc. 

The cruelty of sentimentalism. Note on this page the steps by 
which the sense of thirst is induced in the reader and the cor 
responding disappointment increased; "dry as strewn bones 
bleaching to a desert sky," " grateful ooze, " "sucked the mud," 
"sweetish, tepid taste," "taunted thirst," "damp spots," then 
the description of the pool and the "famished horses." Is not 
the reader as thirsty as Hugh and nearly as keenly disappointed ? 

PAGE 43 

8. Nor did he rise till, vague with stellar light, etc. 

Compare with Bryant's " Forest Hymn." 

At what line does Hugh fall asleep ? At what line does he begin 

to awake ? How many days since "The Crawl" began ? 

17. And Hugh lay gazing till the whole resolved etc. 

What is the difference between this dream and that of the previous 
night? Why? Does Hugh still love Jamie? Would he kill 
him in such a mood ? How many lines in the dream ? 
Define: specious, gulch, buttressing, Host, nave, architrave. 



, NOTES 149 

PAGE 44 

Hugh has not yet reached the prairie on the divide between the Grand 
and the Moreau, though he has journeyed two days. How far do you 
think he has crawled ? 

3. Loath to go, Hugh lay beside the pool and pondered fate, etc. 
Why is Hugh less eager to renew his journey than on the previous 
morning ? Do you suppose his dream had anything to do with 
the matter ? His weariness ? 

11. Sustaining wrath returning with the toil. 

Why does wrath return ? 
23. Of strength that had so very much to buy. 

What had his strength "to buy" ? 
Define : efface, cauldron. 

PAGE 45 
11. Sleep out the glare. With groping hands for sight, 

Hugh sleeps on the afternoon of the third day of his journey. 
Explain "groping hands for sight." 

14. Or sensed the dusky mystery of plain. 

Why dusky mystery ? Can you see a prairie by starlight ? 
16. Gazing aloft, he found the capsized Wain 

"Capsized Wain," Bear. What time of night? 
16-17. Thereto he set his back; 

What direction did he take ? How much knowledge of the con 
stellations must have meant to primitive men ! To sailors ! To 
hunters! Read Bryant's "Hymn to the North Star." 

19. The star-blanched summit of a lonely butte 

20. And thitherward he dragged his heavy limb. 

Note the butte used to guide the crawler. Could a plainsman 
see a butte by starlight ? Could a " tenderfoot " ? 



150 NOTES 

21. It seemed naught moved, etc. 

The movement on a prairie and in the night seems objectless 
It gives a supreme sense of monotony. Time stopped. We 
measure time by events ; no events, no time. 
Define : blanched, incipient. 



PAGE 46 
4. Sheer deep upon unfathomable deep, etc. 

A curious but vivid figure, expressing a sense of darkness and un 
interrupted silence. 

8. So lapsed the drowsy aeon of the night 

The monotony makes the hours seem a moment drawn out. 
10. And then, as quickened to somnambulance, etc. 

Note the steps of the dawning, and the suddenness of the coming 
of day. The description is not only vivid but accurate. 

20. Scarce had he munched the hoarded roots, when came etc. 

Why the difference between this and previous dreams ? 
Define " tensile." 

PAGE 47 
8. It was the hour when cattle straggle home etc. 

A fine lyric. This is one of many memory pictures of Hugh's 
travels. Nothing in the poem tells directly of Hugh's past. 
This silence suggests tragedy dimly illumined by the memory 
pictures. Is Hugh an imaginative man ? Enumerate the eve 
ning sounds. Note the steps marking the transition from evening 
to night. How many days has Hugh crawled ? Hugh is known 
to have been a Pennsylvanian of Scotch descent. 
Define " peripheries." 



NOTES 151 

" PAGE 48 

1. Blank as the face of fate. -In listless mood etc. 

Fate is associated with the inevitable and unrevealed. "In list 
less mood " etc. the end of a day of feverish dreams finds 
Hugh weakened and caring less to live. 

3. And met the night. The new moon, low and far, etc. 
Note the phase of the moon. 

7. The kiote voiced the universal lack. 

Hunger. 

8. As from a nether fire, the plain gave back 

9. The swelter of the noon-glare to the gloom. 

The heat of the prairie is often very noticeable after sunset. 
12. Why seek some further nowhere on the plain ? 
What "nowhere" ? 

14. So spoke some loose-lipped spirit of despair; 

Why "loose-lipped"? 

15. And still Hugh moved, volitionless a weight, etc. 

Volitionless The power of habit is compared to that of the moon 
over the tides. 

18. Now when the night wore on in middle swoon, 

21. To breathe became an act of conscious will. 

22. The starry waste was ominously still. 

24. As through a tunnel in the atmosphere 

Note the steps of the coming storm : middle swoon, a drowsy night, 
stifling condition of the air, utter silence with sense of impending 
disaster, as through a tunnel, etc. 

The description of the storm is exact to the minutest detail. It 
is not interspersed with more or less sentimental comments as 
is Byron's description of the storm on the Alps (Childe Harold, 
Canto III), yet it gains in power by its adherence to truth. 



152 NOTES 

PAGE 49 

4. An oily film seemed spread upon the sky 

"Storm still approaching. "The oily film," the gradual darken 
ing of the atmosphere. 

9. Upon hell's burlesque sabbath for the lost, 

What could be more hopeless than "Sabbath in Hell" ? 

12. Hugh chose not, yet he crawled ; 

Habit keeps him moving. 

13. He felt the futile strife was nearly o'er. 

Hugh will die unless relief comes. 

14. And as he went, a muffled rumbling grew, 

Far away thunder, the next step in the approach of the storm. 
16. Somehow 'twas coextensive with his thirst, 

Confusion of objective and subjective, a not uncommon ex 
perience of extreme weakness. 

PAGE 50 
12. Star-hungry, ranged in regular array, etc. 

Note the use of constellations to indicate the vast expanse and 
swift movement of the cloud ; another illustration of the poet's 
power to see things in the large. Locate the constellations named. 
Explain the figure, "star-hungry." 

19. Deep in the further murk sheet-lightning flared. 

Sheet-lightning covering the sky like a sheet, sometimes called 
heat lightning a common phenomenon in prairie storms. 

24. What turmoil now ? Lo, ragged columns hurled, etc. 
Explain "ragged columns." 

PAGE 51 

2. Along the solid rear a dull boom runs ! 
Explain "solid rear." 



NOTES 



153 



11. Reveals the butte-top tall and lonely there 

12. Like some gray prophet contemplating doom. 

The second time the butte has been described. 
16. Ghosts of the ancient forest or old rain, etc. 

Geology tells us that these plains were once covered with forests. 

19. That e'er evolving, ne'er resolving sound 

20. Gropes in the stifling hollow of the night. 

Never fully developing. " Evolving," " resolving " technical 
expressions in music. 

PAGE 52 

The rush of the rain, the constant flare of lightning, the sudden cessa 
tion, as well as the slow and dread beginning, are characteristic of storms 
in semi-arid countries. This poem reveals every phase of nature on the 
prairies and none more vividly than the storm. 

Define: hurtling, wassail, sardonic, flaw, ravin, murk, cosmic, 
sodden. 

PAGE 53 

3. The butte soared, like a soul serene and white 

4. Because of the katharsis of the night. 

The butte appears again, this time as the symbol of a soul that 
has struggled and triumphed. The principle of Katharsis, puri 
fication, is a principle of the Greek drama as worked out by 
Aristotle. To what degree is it a principle of life ? 

6. All day Hugh fought with sleep and struggled on 

Which day ? Why does Hugh no longer travel at night ? 

16. Hope flared in Hugh, until the memory came 

17. Of him who robbed a sleeping friend and fled. 

Explain. 



154 NOTES 

18. Then hate and hunger merged ; etc. 

Note again that Hugh finds Jamie's treachery everywhere. It is 
an obsession with him. 
Define " amethyst." 

PAGE 54 

How many days has Hugh crawled ? How far has he journeyed ? 
5. Swooped by. The dream of crawling and the act etc. 
An appeal to the muscular sense. 
Such dreams bespeak extreme weariness. 

8. The butte, outstripped at eventide, now seemed etc. 

The butte now becomes the measure of a progress infinitely slow, 
a source of discouragement. 

13. Whose hand-in-pocket saunter kept the pace. 

Why "hand-in-pocket" ? 
16. What rest and plenty on the other side ! 

Hugh must have encouragement. The break in the prairie, the 

crest of the divide, furnishes that. Explain the psychology. How 

far is the divide from the Grand ? 

20. All day it seemed that distant Pisgah Height 

Why"Pisgah"? 
Define " lush." 

PAGE 55 

Hugh is near to starvation. The adventure with the gopher goes 
from waking reality to dream on the following night and to waking dream 
the next day, revealing how sick Hugh had become. 

10. The battered gray face leered etc. 

Note that the vivid picture of the face of Hugh is secured by the 
choice of a few meaningful words, battered, leered, slaver, an 
ticipating jaws. 



NOTES 155 

13. Evolvjng twilight hovered to a pause 
The twilight pause means what ? 

18. Hugh jerked the yarn. It broke. 

Note the brevity of the climax, " It broke." 

19. Down swooped the night, 

How many days of journeying ? The dream is a nightmare 
while the previous one was relatively peaceful. Why the dif 
ference ? 

PAGE 56 

3. Woke hordes of laughers down the giddy yawn 
What "hordes of laughers"? 

6. Dream dawn, dream-noon, dream-twilight! 

Night and day are "telescoped" for Hugh by the monotony of 
crawling either awake or in dreams and never getting anywhere. 

17. Dream-dawn, dream-noon, dream-night ! And still obsessed 

Why the repetition ? 

18. By that one dream more clamorous than the rest, 

What is the one dream ? Why is it a dream ? 
Define : gully, turbid, relict. 

PAGE 57 

3. Yet had the pleasant lie befriended him, 

4. And now the brutal fact had come to stare. 

What was the "pleasant lie" ? The brutal fact ? 

7. And nursed that deadly adder of the soul, 

8. Self-pity. Let the crows swoop down and feed, etc. 

Sentimentalism is soul-flabbiness. 
15. And lo, a finger-nail, etc. 

The accumulation of great results by infinitesimal accretions is 
one of the everlasting surprises in life. 



156 NOTES 

21. So fare the wise on Pisgah. 

How do the wise use their Pisgahs ? To enjoy or to inspire to 

further effort ? 

Define : fa^ture, dwarfed, Titan, triumvirate. 

PAGE 58 

2. Some higher Hugh observed the bas^r part. 

What was the higher, what the baser part ? 

3. So sits the artist throned above his art, etc. 

The hurt is nothing, the achievement is all. No man who is 
worth anything but counts his work as more than all else. 

6. It seemed the wrinkled hills pressed in to stare, etc. 

The manifestations of nature become Hugh's audience and he 
falls into the throes of composition. Most of our thinking is in 
words uttered to persons present, absent, or imagined. 

11. So wrought the old evangel of high daring, etc. 

The true philosophy of life, to be a "victor in the moment." 

23. That day the wild gsese flew 

What is the effect of their cries ? Describe the appearance of 

the sky. 

Define: recks, travail, evangel. 

PAGE 59 

Present, past and fancy are all mingled in Hugh's experiences this day, 
showing his weakened condition, and the feeling for Jamie obsesses him. 

9. Hate slept that day,. 

Was it hate or an inversion of love ? 
18. At last the buzzard beak no longer tore 
What "buzzard beak"? 
Define: lethargy, maudlin. 



NOTES i S7 

> 

PAGE 60 

4. And now serenely beautiful etc. j 

These lines were suggested to the author by a picture, "The 
Death of Absalom." 

6. Thus vexed with doleful whims the crawler went etc. 

Hugh would have died at this time had he not drifted into the 
rugged vale. 

11. Told how the gray-winged gale blew out the day. 

Why " gray-winged " ? 

20. It seemed no wind had ever come that way, 

21. Nor sound dwelt there, nor echo found the place. 

How is utter quiet expressed ! 

PAGE 6l 

7. Returning hunger bade him rise; in vain 

8. He struggled with a fine-spun mesh of pain etc. 

An appeal to muscular sense. 
16. In that hip-wound he had for Jamie's sake 

That "hip-wound" brings back the desire for revenge, a close 
association of ideas. Have you had such experiences ? 

19. Was turned again with every puckering twinge. 

"Puckering twinge," another appeal to muscular sense. 

20. Far down the vale a narrow winding fringe etc. 

Having passed the divide Hugh slept at the head of a valley that 

farther down becomes the bed of a little creek flowing into the 

Moreau. 

Define: mesh, trammelled, puckering, betokened. 



158 NOTES 

PAGE 62 

6. These two, as comrades, struggled south together 

Contrast the two "comrades," each journeying to the many 
fathomed peace, one consumed with "lust to kill," the other 
singing on the way. A bit of wise philosophy is suggested. 

9. And one went crooning of the moon-wooed vast ; 

What is the "moon-wooed vast" and to what is it compared ? 

PAGE 63 

12. All streams ran thin ; and when he pressed a hand etc. 

Why did he do this ? 
20. Far-spread, shade-dimpled in the level glow, 

Another of many sunset pictures in the poem and no two are alike. 
"Far-spread, shade-dimpled in the level glow," a prairie sunset 
in one line. 

24. Hugh saw what seemed the tempest of a dream 

Why a "dream" tempest ? 
Define : phasic, weather-breeding. 

PAGE 64 

3. A dust cloud deepened down the dwindling river; 

4. Upon the distant tree-tops ran a shiver etc. 

Note the pictures suggested in "dust cloud deepened," "upon 
the distant tree-tops ran a shiver," "huddle thickets writhed," 
"green gloom gapes," "mill and wrangle in a turbid flow." 

13. Bound for the winter pastures of the Platte ! 

The Platte was an especially fine bison country. 

17. The lopped moon weltered in the dust-bleared East. 

How long since Hugh began his journey ? 

18. Sleep came and gave a Barmecidal feast. 

In the Arabian Nights one of the Barmecides, a wealthy family, 



NOTES 1 59 

served a beggar a pretended feast on beautiful dishes that were 
empty. 

19. About a merry flame were simmering etc. 

The appeal to the sense of hunger is powerful. Compare Vergil, 
^Eneid, Book I, 210-215. 

21. And tender tongues that never tasted snow, 
Why "never tasted snow" ? 

PAGE 65 

2. So sounds a freshet when the banks are full etc. 

Note comparison of the movement of the herd to a swollen river 
clogged by debris. 

8. Through which the wolves in doleful tenson tossed 

Tenson : among the troubadours a contest between two singers. 

9. From hill to hill the ancient hunger-song. 

Hunger is the oldest form of suffering, and prayer for food the 
oldest prayer. 

16. With some gray beast that fought with icy fang. 

Why "icy" fang ? "white world" ? 
Define : eerie, myriads. 

PAGE 66 

8. The herd would pass and vanish in the night 

How long was the herd in passing ? 

During this time, and for fifty years thereafter, bison herds often 
covered the plains as far as the eye could see. In the 6o's 
travellers on the old Oregon trail often journeyed through one 
solid herd for as much as three days, and on either side the 
prairie was filled to the horizon. 



160 NOTES 

23. So might a child assail the crowding sea ! 

The comparison of the on-rushing herd to high sea tide, notable 
in itself, is greatly strengthened by the comparison of Hugh to 
a child assaulting the waters. Note the impulse of the defeated 
to act in absurd ways. Note the epithet, " crowding." 

PAGE 67 

2. Slept till the white of morning o'er the hill 

3. Was like a whisper groping in a hush. 

The comparison of light to sound, "the white of morning like a 
whisper," is unusual but true. 

4. The stream's low trill seemed loud. 

Why seemed the low trill loud ? 
9. Smacked of the autumn, and a heavy dew etc. 

What association of sensations brings the picture of the autumn 
fields ? 

Note how quickly the vision passed, an illustration of the author's 
power of concentration. Hugh was born in Pennsylvania. What 
was his father's business ? How do you know from this and 
other passages? See the lyrical passage on page 47. 

15. He brooded on the mockeries of Chance, 

On page 58 we saw Hugh in the act of literary composition; now 
we see him a philosopher. This is a common fact among what 
we call the "common" people. Note the grave-digger scene in 
Hamlet, Act V. 
Define : smacksd, hoar, frore. 

PAGE 68 
1. Revealed the havoc of the living flood, etc. 

Point out each word and statement that pictures the havoc 
wrought in the valley by the herd. 



NOTES 161 

9. A food-devouring plethora of food 

Devouring what food ? What plethora? 
10. Had come to make a starving solitude ! 

What idea is modified by the word "starving" ? 
16. That still the weak might perish. 

Express this idea in other terms. Note unusual use of the word 
" still." State the biological " law of evolution." 

24. Within himself the oldest cause of war 

What is the "oldest cause of war" ? The newest ? 
Define : plethora, raucous, guerdon. 

PAGE 69 
8. He saw a bison carcass black with crows, etc. 

This picture is unique, cruel, almost revolting, but wonderfully 
true. 

18. To die contending with a living foe, 

19. Than fight the yielding distance and the lack. 

To engage in a short struggle with a visible foe with a definite 
end near and certain is far easier than to endure the long drawn 
and indefinite. This is because man is primarily well equipped 
for the immediate struggle of hunting and war, but is not gifted 
by nature with power to endure. 

PAGE 70 
6. The wolf's a coward, who, in goodly packs, etc. 

The wolf pack symbolizes the mob. The law of mob life is 
cruelty, and cruelty is always cowardly. 

10. How some great beast that shambled like a bear 

Why "shambled like a bear"? 
24. Woe in the silken meshes of the friend, 

M 



162 NOTES 

26. Weal in the might and menace of the foe. 

The friend often weakens his friend. The opposition of the 

enemy develops his strength. 

Define : lacerated, vituperative, prodigious, frenzy, weal. 

PAGE 71 
14. When sleep is weirdest and a moment's flight, 

Dreams often come just before waking. 
20. Hoof-smitten leagues consuming in a dust. 

What is the syntax of " leagues " ? Explain the line. 

23. A corpse, yet heard the muffled parleying etc. 

Note how the idea that he was really dead haunts Hugh both 
sleeping and waking. Find other places in the poem where this 
is true. 

PAGE 72 

3. The babble flattened to a blur of gray 

A comparison of sound to light. 
16. Could they be the Sioux ? 

The Sioux had been allies in the Leavenworth Campaign, while 

the Rees were enemies. Note page i. 

Note on this page the vivid picture of the Indians riding in the 

fog. 

24. The outflung feelers of a tribe a-stir 

Meaning of "feelers"? 

PAGE 73 

8. And wasna ! 

Bison meat, shredded, dried, and mixed with bison tallow and 
dried bullberries, the mixture being packed in bladders. 



NOTES 163 

11. But kinsman of the blood of daring men. 

Actual "blood brotherhood" between Indian and White was not 
uncommon and bravery and loyalty were the basis of such re 
lation. 

13. O Friend-Betrayer at the Big Horn's mouth, etc. 

Note how Hugh's imagination rushes on to the killing of Jamie. 
17. From where a cloud of startled blackbirds rose 

What startles the blackbirds ? 

Note on this page, and the next, various hints of the coming of 

the Indians and how important the matter was to the starving 

watcher from the bluff. 

20. Embroiled the parliament of feathered shrews ? 
What are the "feathered shrews"? 

22. Flackering strepent ; now a sooty shower, etc. 

"Flackering strepent" fluttering and noisy, a fitting descrip 
tion of the startled flock; onomatopoeia. 

The entire picture of the blackbirds is notable. They are a 
"boiling cloud," "a sooty shower," with big flakes and driven 
by a squall, they are "cold black fire." All these terms are 
startling but exact. 
Define: parfleche, panniers, maize, parliament, shrews. 

PAGE 74 

4. What augury in orniscopic words 
6. Did yon swart sibyls on the morning scrawl ? 

A rhetorical question to indicate the dread interest Hugh felt 

in the question "Sioux or Ree?" 

Note the fancy that words are written on the sky. 

13. In their van 

14. Aloof and lonely rode a gnarled old man etc. 

"Gnarled" like a tree. A most vivid picture of Elk Tongue, a 
famous Ree chief. 



164 NOTES 

16. Beneath his heavy years, yet haughtily 

17. He wore them like the purple of a king. 

His great age is like a royal robe. "Gray hairs are a crown of 
glory." 

18. Keen for a goal, as from the driving string etc. 

In how many and significant ways his face is described in these 

lines : keen for a goal, like a flinty arrow-head, with a brooding 

stare. Directions for a statue could scarcely be more exact or 

more full of suggestion. 

Define : ruck, augury, orniscopic, swart, sibyl, attenuated; gnarled, 

piebald. 

PAGE 75 

Read the entire description of the Indians at one sitting and get the 
unified effect. 

12. Such foeman as no warrior ever slew. 

Hunger. 
18. And hurled them shivering back upon the beast. 

According to the Greek myth men were little better than beasts 

until Prometheus brought fire to them from heaven in a reed. 

How nearly does the myth accord with truth ? 

21. Hope fed them with a dream of buffalo etc. 

With primitive man feast and famine were often close together. 
23. Home with their Pawnee cousins on the Platte, 

Locate the Platte. The Rees and Pawnees speak the same 

tongue with slight variations. 

Define " ravelled." 

PAGE 76 

2. The rich-in-ponies rode, etc. 

The first scene in the moving picture shows the contrast of rich 
and poor that existed even in the most primitive society. 



NOTES 16$ 

3. F'or much is light and little is a load etc. 

What is meant ? The sentence is a paradox. 
10. Whining because the milk they got was thinned etc. 

The squaws with their crying babies are the material of the 
second scene, followed by the striplings. 

14. How fair life is beyond the beckoning blue, etc. 

"Distance lends enchantment." 

15. Cold-eyed the grandsires plodded, for they knew, etc. 

Note contrasting words : striplings, grandsires; strutted, plodded. 
One group saw visions, the other was disillusioned. 

17. In what lone land. 

What is meant? 
20. Stooped to the fancied burden of the race; 

What is the "burden of the race" ? 

26. The lean cayuses toiled. 

Cayuse, a broncho, originally one bred by the Cayuse Indians. 

27. To see a world flow by on either side, 

How does the world "flow by" ? 

PAGE 77 

The dog was an ever present feature of Indian life. Note the author's 
familiarity with the dog. 

12. Yielded to the squaws' 

13. Inverted mercy and a slow-won grave. 

"The female of the species is more deadly than the male." Why ? 
For the sake of the protection of the young. Indian fighters 
had a special horror of falling into the hands of the squaws. 
Hate and love are opposite sides of the same shield. In propor 
tion as woman loves her children and the protectors of them she 
hates anybody and anything that menaces them. 



i66 NOTES 

14. Since Earth's first mother scolded from a cave 
A true picture of social origins. 

17. To match the deadly venom brewed above 

18. The lean, blue, blinding heart-fires of her love. 

Note the witches' cauldron that bubbles here and the fire that 
burns below it. 

20. But thrice three seasons yet should swell the past, etc. 

Glass was killed by the Rees in 1832. 

21. So was it writ, ere Fate's keen harriers etc. 

Why is Fate capitalized ? 
Define : palimpsest, harriers. 

PAGE 78 

3. For that weird pass whereto the fleet are slow, 

The fleet are the young, but the old reach the "weird pass" first. 
16. Scarce had he crossed the open flat, and won etc. 

On this page and the next we have the temptation of Hugh to 
kill the squaw, (a) Do you feel that Hugh will kill her ? (b) Would 
he be justified in so doing ? (c) Would you be satisfied to have 
the hero of the story slay a weak old woman, though an Indian ? 
Whom does Hugh see sitting haloed like a saint ? (page 79) 
What impression on Hugh does the whole adventure make ? 

PAGE 8O 

3. He reached a river. Leaning to a pool etc. 
Was the reaction against his own pity natural ? 

14. That somehow some sly Jamie of a dream 

16. Had plundered him again ; 

Again the obsession concerning Jamie. There seems a sugges 
tion of insanity in this. Is the pursuit of vengeance always in 
sane ? 



NOTES 167 

18. Now when the eve in many-shaded grays etc. 

Another prairie sunset. Note that every description of the 
prairie is woven directly into the story. No two are alike. 

21. Hugh paused perplexed. Elusive, haunting, dim, etc. 

A comparison of pure sense to- pure idea is unusual but true, for 

ideas rest upon sense perception. 

Define : crone, fleered. 

PAGE 8 1 

4. It seemed the sweet 
6. Allure of home. 

Association by sense of smell smoke, fire, home in the evening. 
12. Hearth-lit within, its windows were as eyes etc. 

The comparison of an old farmhouse to an old mother. Point 
out pathos in each. 

21. A two-tongued herald wooing hope and fear, 

Meaning? Compare ^Eneid, Book I, 661. 
Select a lyric from this page. 
Define : troll, recrudescent. 

PAGE 82 
2. And reached a bluff's top. In a smudge of red etc. 

Another sunset picture. Where were the "pools of gloom"? 
How comes the " mottled " effect ? 

10. He lay upon the bare height, fagged, forlorn, 

Hugh is again near to collapse. 
17. Then with a start etc. 

How well the first stage of the finding and appropriation of fire 
has been pictured as the effect of smell ! Now comes the second 
stage. The whole incident epitomizes in wonderful way the 



168 NOTES 

meaning of fire to mankind. Note the beauty of the comparison 
of the flame to a lily. 
Define : mottled, pluming. 

PAGE 83 

4. With pounding heart Hugh crawled along the height 
Why "with pounding heart" ? 

16. Keen to possess once more the ancient gift. 

Of Prometheus to man. 

Define : doddering, burgeoning, tenuous. 

PAGE 84 

1. Arose, and made an altar of the place. 

Fire worship is as old as the race. Hugh is the priest, the East 
Wind a religious novice who sings in the ceremonials, the night 
is the temple, and in response to the worship, "Conjuries of 
interwoven breath," the fire god appears in the burning wood. 

6. The Wind became a chanting acolyte. 
Why have an East Wind ? 

10. Once more the freightage of the fennel rod 

Prometheus used a fennel rod to bring fire to mortals. 

11. Dissolved the chilling pall of Jovia-n scorn. 

Jove despised men and refused them fire. 

13. The face apocalyptic, and the sword 

14. The glory of the many-symboled Lord 

17. Voiced with the sound of many waters, 

All this is from Revelations, Chapter I. 
Define : acolyte, epiphanic. 



NOTES 169 

> . ... 

PAGE 85 

11. Then set about to view an empty camp 

12. As once before, etc. 

See pages 29 and 30. 

PAGE 86 

1. Among the ash-heaps ; and the lean dogs ran 

2. And barked about him, for the love of man etc. 

Some one has said that the dog was a candidate for humanity 
and just missed it. 

8. For 'tis the little gifts of grudging Chance, 

9. Well husbanded, make victors. 

This is a principle of economy often illustrated. 
18. Scarce more of marvel and the sense of might, etc. 

Tennyson makes poetry out of a miraculous sword, Neihardt 
out of a man-made knife. One is romanticism, the other realism. 
Which is more poetic ? 

PAGE 87 

1. Not having, but the measure of desire etc. 

"A man's riches consist of what he can do without." Socrates 
taught this philosophy. 

2. Who gaining more, seek most, etc. 

Explain. 
7. That twain wherewith Time put the brute to school, 

Who was the "brute" ? How " put to school " ? 
6. What gage of mastery in fire and tool ! 

The control of fire was the first great step in civilization and 
someone has said that the invention of the bow and arrow wrought 



iyo NOTES 

greater changes in human life than any other invention. By 
enabling man to kill at a greater range it increased his supply 
of meat and so made it possible to live in larger groups. 



PAGE 88 

Why didn't Hugh roast the dog instead of boiling ? Note details of 
preparation. Hugh ate the entire dog. Two starved Indian hunters 
have been known to eat the whole carcass of a deer at one sitting. 

13. Hugh slept. And then as divers, mounting, sunder etc. 

A vivid expression of a common experience on waking from es 
pecially profound sleep. 
Define : bulimic, gage. 

PAGE 89 
3. And was the friendlike fire a Jamie too ? etc. 

The natural return of a monomania. 
12. The sting of that antiquity of pain 

After a long rest, his former suffering seemed ancient. 

14. That yielding victor, fleet in being slow 

Always more space to be conquered, hence slow and certain to 
win over Hugh. 

16. So readily the tentacles of sense, etc. 

Thinkers are just beginning to realize something of the hypnotic 
power of habit and custom in the individual and in society. The 
loss of the accustomed may disintegrate the life. Our author 
shows keen understanding when he likens the effect upon Hugh 
of the loss of fire to that of the loss of a dear one by death. A 
moment ago he was here, vital, real. Now he is gone. How 
strange is the world without him ! 



NOTES 171 

> 

PAGE 90 

7. A yelping of the dogs among the bluffs, etc. 

The one sound in the desolate night, the yelping of the dogs, 
starts a train of ideas. The power of abstraction has made man 
able to survive where less intelligent forms have perished. 
Flint can be used to skin a dog, so can steel, the two smitten to 
gether make fire, so Hugh found his "unlocked door to life." 

22. Spilled on it from the smitten stone a shower 

23. Of ruddy seed ; and saw the mystic flower 

24. That genders its own summer, bloom anew ! 

Explain the metaphor. 

An absolutely new figure regarding fire. 

PAGE 91 

10. Set laggard singers snatching at the tune. 
What "laggard singers"? 

13. And, pitching voices to the timeless woe, 

Life fundamentally sad. 

14. Outwailed the lilting. So the Chorus sings etc. 

In the Greek theater the Chorus sang after the actor had spoken, 
always taking an opposite tone. So Hugh's joyous song is 
drowned in the wailing of the dogs. 

PAGE 92 

8. He hobbled now along a withered rill etc. 

Note the quiet of the autumn spell over the secluded place, and 
the onomatopoeia indicating the falling of the plums and whisper 
ing leaves ; also the crying of the lonesome dog that makes the 
stillness more intense and sad. 



172 NOTES 

10. A cyclopean portal yawning sheer. 

"Cyclopean portal," Homer's Odyssey. 
26. Above the sunset like a stygian boat, 

The boat of Charon on the Styx, the river of the underworld. 

PAGE 93 

1. The new moon bore the spectre of the old, 
Explain. 

3. The valley of the tortuous Cheyenne. 

Locate the Cheyenne. 

4. And ere the half moon sailed the night again, etc. 

How long since Hugh left the forks of the Grand ? 
17. Grown Atlantean in the wrestler's craft. 

Explain "Atlantean." 

Read "The River and I," Chapter I, by the same author, to get 

his feeling for the Missouri. 

THE RETURN OF THE GHOST 

PAGE 94 
1. Not long Hugh let the lust of vengeance gnaw 

Note that the first line of the division of the poem rhymes with 
the last line of the former. How often does this happen in the 
poem ? This device keeps the mind on a stretch and so keeps 
interest alive. The same device is often used by the author in 
passing from one paragraph to the next. 

6. I can not rest ; for I am but the ghost etc. 

The old obsession that he actually died by the Grand, though 
here used less seriously than in other places. 



NOTES 173 

12. With such a blizzard of a face for me ! 

The epithet reveals how Hugh's gray "ruined face" impressed 
men. 

13. For he went grayer like a poplar tree, etc. 

The simile of the face of Glass in mentioning Jamie's treachery 

and the poplar tree shaken by the first wind of a storm is true 

to nature, for a poplar turns the gray side of its leaves when 

shaken. 

Define : fend, kenneled. 

PAGE 95 

1. From where the year's last keelboat hove in view 

The keelboat, shaped with keel and hence so called, from forty 
to sixty feet long, carrying as much as sixty tons and pulled by 
fifteen to twenty-five men, was used on the Missouri and other 
navigable rivers before the day of the steamboat. 

10. Until the tipsy Bourgeois bawled for Glass 

The head of a trading post in the fur trading period was called 
Bourgeois, a French word meaning tradesman. 

12. The graybeard, sitting where the light was blear, etc. 

The whole account of Hugh's telling of this great tragedy is of 
the highest excellence. We already know that Hugh is a story 
teller; we have seen him composing this very tale (page 58), and 
we know how his imagination sometimes carries him beyond the 
actual, as when he saw Jamie dead (page 60). The effect of his 
face, with its changing expressions suiting all the moods as 
sociated with love and betrayal, his chanting songlike tones, is 
shown in the muscular responses of the listeners and their shudders 
when the story ends. The supreme touch comes when Hugh 
tells of the slaying of Jamie as if already done. 



174 NOTES 

19. And his the purpose that is art's, etc. 

To centre attention on human experience at the crucial moment 
and so render it immortal. 

20. Whereby men make a vintage of their hearts etc. 

Turn sorrow into beauty. Is there comfort in a sad story well 
told ? 

PAGE 97 

Select the lines on this page that convey a sense of monotony. 
16. Past where the tawny Titan gulps the cup 
Titan, the Missouri. 

22. And there old times came mightily on Hugh, etc. 

Do you believe Hugh capable now of killing Jamie ? 
24. Some troubled glory of that wind-tossed hair 

Hugh's memory of Jamie is sad, not bitter. 
Define : cutbank, wry, tawny. 

PAGE 98 
2. So haunted with the blue of Jamie's eyes, etc. 

The blue is sad but not treacherous as once. 
8. Past where the Cannon Ball and Heart come in 

Locate the Cannon Ball and the Heart. 

18. The chaining of the Titan. Drift ice ran. 

The story of the freezing of the river is worth noting for its vivid 
ness, its alliterations and onomatopoeia. 

19. The winged hounds of Winter ceased to bay. 

What were the "winged hounds" ? 



NOTES 175 

PAGE 99 

5. To wait the far-off Heraclean thaw, 

Heraclean Hercules. What chained Titan did Hercules re 
lease ? 

12. His purpose called him at the Big Horn's mouth 

Locate the Big Horn. What purpose ? Who was there ? 
18. And took the bare, foot-sounding solitude 

Why "foot-sounding" ? 
22. He seemed indeed a fugitive from Death etc. 

Another reference to Hugh's fancy that he had actually died. 

It gives added force to that fancy to make his frosted breath 

suggest a shroud. 

24. Now the moon was young 

Note the phase of the moon for later reference. 

PAGE ICO 

6. With Spring's wild rage, the snow-born Titan girl, etc. 

The Yellowstone is larger at the junction than is the Missouri. 
Hence the Missouri is the Titan girl rushing into the arms of her 
lover. But in the winter with snow covering the ice, "A wind 
ing sheet was on the marriage bed." Why " snow-born " ? 

15. Gray void seemed suddenly astir with wings etc. 

Note onomatopoeia in the lines indicating that snow begins to 
fall. 

PAGE IOI 

1. The bluffs loomed eerie, and the scanty trees 

Describe the appearance of the trees. 
15. The tumbling snowflakes sighing all arouryl, 

What associations brought Hugh a dream of boyhood ? 



1 76 NOTES 

18. The Southwind in the touseled apple trees 

19. And slumber flowing from their leafy gloom. 

These lines are an intentional "literary echoing" of one of the 

most beautiful of the Sapphic fragments, fragment 4 in Bergk's 

text 

Define : penumbral, susurrant. 



PAGE 102 

The blizzard is a storm characteristic of the plains. It generally 
lasts three days, is terribly cold, and the whirling snow is blinding. 

4. Black blindness grew white blindness 

Indicating the slight difference between night and day. 

Note in how few lines the poet pictures the passing of the day. 

5. All being now seemed narrowed to a span, etc. 

All else was shut from sight and to a degree from the mind. 



103 
7. As with the waning day the great wind fell. 

The sudden cessation of the wind at the close of the third day of 
the storm is characteristic, as is also the intense cold. Forty 
degrees below zero is not unusual, often even fifty degrees. 

10. When, heifer-horned, the maiden moon lies down 

A reference to the maiden Diana, goddess of the moon. 
How long was Hugh on this journey ? 

PAGE 104 
3. Yon sprawling shadow, pied with candle-glow etc. 

Another of the gripping memory pictures. Can a man who 
dreams such a waking dream kill another, even one who has 
betrayed him, in cold blood ? 



NOTES 177 

21. Or was this but the fretted wraith of Hugh etc. 

The feeling that he is a ghost comes to Hugh twice in this incident 
of finding the fort. His long journey, his weakened physical 
condition and his exhausted emotions combine to make life seem 
unreal. 

PAGE 105 
14. Joy filled a hush twixt heart-beats like a bird ; etc. 

Joy rather than anger comes first in his feeling about Jamie. 
That is significant. 

PAGE 1 06 

7. "My God ! I saw the Old Man's ghost out there !" 
Belief in ghosts was common among the trappers. 

12-21. "Hugh strove to shout," etc. 

For the last time we see Hugh with the feeling that he is dead. 

PAGE 108 

Are you surprised that Hugh does not kill Le Bon ? Would you ex 
cuse the deed if he had ? 

JAMIE 

PAGE 109 

Locate the Country of the Crows (Absaroka), the Big Horn, the 
Powder, Fort Atkinson. 

PAGE 1 10 

16. Now up the Powder, etc. 

Trace the journey on the map. 
Locate the Laramie. 

N 



178 NOTES 

PAGE III 

2. The Niobrara races for the morn 

Locate the Niobrara. It is a very swift stream. Note the entire 
description of the coming of spring on the prairie. It is a lyric 
and includes a description of both late and early<oming of spring. 

3. Here at length was born 
Upon the southern slopes the baby spring, etc. 

A slow spring. 

6. Not such as when announced by thunder-claps etc. 

A description of a swiftly coming spring. 
9. Clad splendidly as never Sheba's Queen, 

Sheba's Queen The Bible, ist Kings. 

15. And no root dreamed what Triumph-over-Death 

16. Was nurtured now in some bleak Nazareth, etc. 

The coming of spring suggests the resurrection. 
19. And everywhere the Odic Presence dwelt. 

"Odic": from " od," an arbitrary scientific term signifying the 
mysterious vital force in nature. 

21. And when they reached the valley of the Snake, 

Locate the Snake. 

22. The Niobrara' s ice began to break, 

The next step in the coming of spring. 

PAGE 112 

4. The geese went over, 

A sure sign that spring is almost come. 
6. The little river of Keyapaha 
Locate the Keyapaha. 



NOTES 179 

10. To where the headlong Niobrara etc. 

Locate the mouth of the Niobrara. A student in one of my 
classes once wrote an interesting essay telling how her father's 
farm had been swept away by the rushing of the Niobrara into 
the Missouri at the spring flood. At such times the smaller 
river hurls the Missouri as much as a mile beyond its normal 
course. 

13. A giant staggered by a pigmy's sling. 
What Bible story is here referred to ? 

18. There all the vernal wonder-work was done : etc. 

From here on select the color words that give the picture of the 
progress of spring. Another lyric. 

PAGE 113 
2.4. Of wizard-timber and of wonder stuff etc. 

Are day dreams built of "wizard timber and of wonder-stuff" ? 
Note the alliteration. 

PAGE 114 

1. Into the North, a devil-ridden man. 

The first picture of Jamie since he deserted Hugh. Will it arouse 
Hugh's pity? 

13. Up the long watery stairway to the Horn, 

What is the "watery stairway to the Horn"? Horn Big 
Horn River. 

14. And the year was shorn e^tc. 

How long is it since the story opened ? 

Note the entire description of the coming of autumn. 

19. That withered in the endless martyrdom 

Why "martyrdom"? 



180 NOTES 

20. The scarlet quickened on the plum etc. 

Note the steps of the coming of autumn at the Heart, among the 
Mandans, at the Yellowstone, the Powder. 

PAGE 115 
1. Was spattered with the blood of Summer slain. 

A remarkable figure. 
8. Aye, one who seemed to stare upon a ghost etc. 

A second picture of Jamie's suffering. 

14. And to forgive and to forget were sweet : etc. 

There will be no murder; our interest now is that the men may 
meet and in the manner of reconciliation. 

15. 'Tis for its nurse etc. 

Explain. Is this not true ? 

20. But at the crossing of the Rosebud's mouth 
Locate the Rosebud. 

PAGE Il6 

3. Alas, the journey back to yesterwhiles ! etc. 

There is no going back to the old days. 
13. He came with those to where the Poplar joins etc. 

Locate the Poplar. 
22. From Mississippi to the Great Divide 

Locate the Great Divide. 

PAGE 117 

6. Upon Milk River valley, 
Locate Milk River. 



NOTES 181 

7. Above the Piegan lodges, 

Piegans one of the principal divisions of the Blackfoot tribe 
of Indians. Locate the Piegan village. 

PAGE 118 
7. Lest on the sunset trail slow feet should err. 

What is the "sunset trail " ? 
16. You saw no Black Robe ? 

Black Robe, priest, so-called by all Indians. 
18. "Heaped snow sharp stars a kiote on the rise." 

The answer is true to the laconic Indian speech, but it is 
beautiful. 

PAGE 122 

2. By their own weakness are the feeble sped ; etc. 

Three paradoxes "He that loseth his life shall find it." 

PAGE 123 

The vision of Hugh as seen by Jamie corresponds to the description 
of Hugh on pages 59 and 60. May we say that Jamie may indeed have 
seen Hugh ? The Society for Psychic Research records such phenomena. 

16. O, Father, I had paid too much for breath ! 

For what will a man give his life ? What higher values than life 
are there? It is Satan who says in Job, "All that a man hath 
will he give for his life." 
Show that the principle of Katharsis is illustrated in this poem. 



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